Irish Soda Bread

This is a quick and easy Irish soda bread that is wonderful when served with a hearty winter beef stew or with a vegetarian chili or curry.  This recipe is a great introduction for those of you who might want to get into baking bread.  Soda bread is a type of quick bread in which sodium bicarbonate is used as a leavening agent instead of the traditional yeast.  This bread has a long history and became popular for it's very basic ingredients during Irelands less wealthy years.  Now it's just practical and delicious! 

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 to 4 ½ cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 Tbsp butter (softened)
  • 1 cup dried berries (either raisins, blueberries or currants)
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 ¾ cups buttermilk

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking soda in a large mixing bowl.
  • Work the butter into the flour mixture using either your fingers or two knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add the dried fruit.
  • Make a well in the center of the flour mixture.  Add the beaten egg and the buttermilk to the well and stir with a wooden spoon until the dough is too stiff to stir.
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  • Turn mixture onto a floured surface and gently knead until it forms a rough ball.  Do not over-knead.  Shape into a round ball.
  • Place in a lightly greased cast iron pan and place the dough into the pan.  Using a serrated knife, score the top of the dough with a deep X shape.  The scoring of the bread with an X allows the heat to get into the center of the dough and thoroughly cook the bread. 
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  • Bake 35-40 minutes until the top of the bread is golden brown.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes.   Remove from the pan.  Irish soda bread is best served immediately or within a day or two.   We served ours with a marscapone cheese with smashed fresh blueberries.