I must have the luck of the Irish because I made a loaf of authentic Irish soda bread and it worked!
I was pretty nervous because I am a yeast bread baker and was sure I just wasted a stick of extra rich butter and gobs of beloved King Arthur flour, so when this loaf did its thing I actually made the sign of the cross.
After researching recipes, I used the recipe for Irish soda bread found here: Yahoo Voices Irish Soda Bread Recipe
The dough was super wet and I added a bit more flour than the recipe asks for. I also did not knead it by hand, but used my mixer instead. This recipe makes a huge loaf. If you only want a small amount, I would cut everything in half (except the egg). I didn’t have buttermilk on hand either, so I used whole milk with 2 Tbs of white vinegar to sour it. No currants? No problem — I omitted them.
The bake time on this loaf was fifteen minutes more than the 60 minutes the recipe required, but in the end it was worth it. I ended up with a moist, slightly sweet, almost pastry-like textured bread. Warm with a pat of butter, this treat was lovely. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!!
Ingredients for one large loaf of Irish Soda Bread:
4 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 Cups whole milk
White vinegar to bring liquid up to 2 Cups (about 2 Tbs or so)
1/4 Cup sugar
1 stick softened butter
1/4 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 Cup raisins
1/2 Cup currants if you have them
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Butter and lightly flour a baking tray and set aside.
In a medium bowl or a four cup liquid measuring cup, pour your milk and add just enough vinegar to bring the liquid up to 2 Cups even. Let this sit for a while as you prepare the rest of the dough.
In the bowl of your mixer, add flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Stir together, then add 1 stick of butter and incorporate using a pastry cutter or a fork. I usually end up using my hand to squish the butter into the flour. Use whatever method you prefer until the flour and butter comes together to resemble coarse crumbs.
Mix in your raisins and currants. Return to your liquid ingredients and add your egg, whisking into your soured milk.
With your mixer on, use a dough hook and slowly add in your milk and egg to the dry ingredients. Mix until the dough comes together, adding more flour if needed to form a sticky dough.
Turn out onto your prepared baking tray and do your best to form this into a high ball shape. You may want to add flour to your hands to do this. With a sharp knife, cut an X into the top. Pop this into the preheated oven and bake anywhere from 50-75 minutes or until golden brown and hollow sounding when you thump on the outside of the loaf.
Allow to cool on a rack and enjoy sliced with good butter.
*** Update — last night I had more time to research Irish soda bread and found out that #1) real Irish soda bread does not contain sugar, eggs or baking powder #2) soda bread with raisins is called “spotted dog”…hahaha and #3) what I made would be considered “cake”. I like cake. This cake is good!
If you want more info on truly authentic, traditional Irish soda bread, check out this site: http://www.sodabread.info/ It is from the Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread (who knew???).