Saturday, March 17, 2012

Old Fashioned Irish Soda Bread

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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I used to think I hated Irish soda bread. It was dry and tasteless and simply not worth eating, in my opinion. One day while we were driving through the countryside of Ireland, though, that all changed. We stopped to fill up at a gas station, and a woman inside was selling fresh, hot Irish soda bread with butter and jam. It looked amazing, so we bought a loaf...and proceeded to rip off chunks, dunk them in little containers of jam and eat the entire thing in the car. So good.

One of Matt's coworkers recently gave us a recipe to try that was given to her by her Irish grandmother. She said the recipe card she had received was so old and weathered that she could barely read it. Don't you love that? She recreated it and has been making it for all the teachers for a while now. In Matt's words, "with a name like O'Hara, you know her soda bread's gotta be good."

He's right. It's even better than the one we had in Ireland.

It's soft, buttery and slightly sweet. No dry bread here! I made two loaves yesterday - one that I baked right away...that didn't last very long.

And one that I saved for this morning. We took the loaf out of the fridge about an hour before baking it to allow it to come to room temperature. It came out fine, so feel free to make the dough ahead of time.

The recipe calls for buttermilk, but I don't like buying the stuff because after I use it in a recipe, the rest of the container just sits there until I throw it out. Instead, I used the old skim milk + white vinegar trick. I also reduced the baking time so it wouldn't get too dry. This morning we ate ours with homemade orange bourbon marmalade and a side of plain Greek yogurt with strawberries. Such a good treat for breakfast.

Before I go, I'll leave you with some pictures from our Ireland trip, which was one of our most favorite vacations. Time to crack open a Guinness! ;-)

O'Hara's Old Fashioned Irish Soda Bread

Makes 2 loaves

3 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. caraway seeds
1 cup raisins
1 egg
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Sift together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Stir in the caraway seeds and raisins. In a small bowl, beat eggs together with buttermilk and butter. Stir wet mixture into dry mixture. Divide dough between two pie pans that have been greased with cooking spray. Bake for 40 minutes or up to 1 hour, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

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