I’m a Murphy girl, so Irish soda bread was a staple growing up at my house. The bread is so yummy, it’s a shame we tend to make it only once a year. I developed this recipe to be so easy that there is just no excuse not to make it every day!
Of course, this bread is delicious with all kinds of boiled meat dinners, not just corned beef. My favorite way to eat it is toasted, spread with butter and strawberry jam, served alongside a cup of hot tea.
At Sweet Melissa’s, we make tons of loaves for all of our Irish customers, as well as those who are Irish for the day!
Makes one three-pound loaf or two half-sized loaves
1/2 cup dried black currants
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 tablespoons caraway seeds (optional)
1 large egg
2/3 cup buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
In a medium bowl, combine the raisins and currants. Pour boiling water over to cover and set aside to reconstitute.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, and cloves. Add the cold butter pieces and mix on low speed until the butter is the size of small peas. Add the caraway seeds and mix to blend.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and buttermilk.
Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl to combine thoroughly. Do not overmix.
Drain the raisins and currants thoroughly. Add them to the dough and mix on low speed for 20 seconds.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough gently, until the ingredients are fully incorporated. Using a little flour if needed, form the dough into one large round or divide it in half to form two small rounds.
Place the rounds on the prepared baking sheet. Using a sharp knife, cut an “X” into the top about one-and-one-half inches deep. Bake for 20 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees, and bake for an additional 20 minutes for the large loaf, or 10 minutes for the smaller loaves. The loaves will be golden, and a wooden skewer inserted into the center will come out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
Melissa Murphy is the chef/owner of Sweet Melissa Patisserie [175 Seventh Ave., between First and Second streets in Park Slope, (718) 502-9153; 276 Court St., between Butler and Douglass streets in Cobble Hill, (718) 855-3410]. Full menu at www.sweetmelissapatisserie.com.