I can’t begin to tell you how excited I was to find out that Irish Soda Bread was one of the picks for this month’s Tuesdays with Dorie.
Irish soda bread is actually one of the first things I ever learned how to bake, since it’s so ridiculously foolproof that even a gangly, uncoordinated pre-teen can whip together a crusty, golden-brown loaf in mere minutes.
Imagine my sorrow when I started reading and discovered there was nothing Irish about the soda bread I’d been making for half my life. My beloved raisins and caraway are apparently a North American addition, and utterly unacceptable if you want to make “real” Irish soda bread. Drat.
The Irish soda bread in Baking with Julia, on the other hand, looks to be pretty darned authentic. It’s poor peasant food, at its very finest – just flour, baking soda, salt, buttermilk, coaxed with minimal kneading into a malleable dough and then baked until golden and crusty. Not a raisin or a caraway seed or even the teensiest smidge of butter to enrich the dough. The white flour alone is luxury enough.
Still, I couldn’t resist messing around with the basic recipe – I swapped out half of the all-purpose flour with whole grain Red Fife flour, and added 3/4 cup dried cranberries and the finely grated zest of one orange.
Authentic, it definitely isn’t. Tasty, on the other hand, it most definitely is!
We gobbled down still-warm slices for dessert, and cut some more slices the following morning for a quick toteable workday breakfast. The recipe notes that the bread is at its best eaten the day of, which is definitely true, but it’s still quite delicious even a day or two later (albeit a little less crusty and a little more dense).
As always, I’m not posting the recipe, since a) it’s against the TWD rules and b) you really, really, really ought to buy a copy of the book. You’ll find the original recipe on page 214 of Baking with Julia, or you can grab it from one of our hosts, Cathy of My Culinary Mission and Carla of Chocolate Moosey.