St. Patrick’s day is around the corner and the bakeries are selling Irish soda breads again . The first time I made a soda bread was around 15 years back . I was intimidated by yeast breads then . These breads were such a morale booster . Though the store here call it Irish Soda Bread in reality it is the lightly sweeter version – the Spotted Dog . I think the name refers to the specks of dried fruit in the bread . It is quick, rustic and I am sure you can make it in the dutch oven on the stove top if needed .
Breads leavened with baking soda works well with low protein flours . These require much less time and effort . There is no kneading to develop gluten or waiting for multiple rising of the dough . One could even start with cold ingredients . Just mix everything together and into the oven it goes . Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C) . By the time the oven is ready the dough will be ready to bake . In short there is no planning required , as long as you have the ingredients you are good to go . Isn’t that neat ?
Sift the flour , baking soda and salt together in a bowl . Sift it 2 more times to aerate properly . Take 1 teaspoon flour and add it to the dried fruit and toss well. Add the caraway seeds and sugar to the flour and mix well . Add the raisins . Use a spoon to gently toss the mix aerate it more . Break the egg into a cup and beat well . Mix in the buttermilk well .
Make a well in the flour mix and slowly pour in the buttermilk while using a spatula to stir the wet and dry ingredients together .Add just enough water to moisten almost all the flour . Use circular motions of the spatula to bring the dough together .
Turn the dough out to a floured surface . Use your hands to form the dough into a circular disc about 2 inches in height . Transfer to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper . Use a sharp knife to mark an X on top . Brush with egg wash (optional). Transfer to the oven , reduce the temperature to 400°F (200°C) and bake for 35 to 40 minutes till done .
When done , the crust will be light brown . Tap the bottom of the loaf and it should sound hollow. Cool for a few minutes on the rack serve with a dollop of jam / butter .
- Notes :
- Reserve 1 Tbsp of the beaten egg . Mix it with 1 Tbsp water and brush on top of the loaf right before the loaf is kept in the oven to give it a nice sheen .
- Work with the dough quickly . Keep the kneading and mixing to minimum .
- Use chopped jumbo raisins or cranberries for a bust of color .
- These can be sliced and toasted for 15 to 20 minutes in a 200°F(90°C) oven to to make crunchy toasts (fruity rusk) to go with coffee .