Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Caraway - Currant Irish Soda Bread

Ah, Saint Patrick's Day – when we all wear green and pretend to be Irish. I don't have much Irish blood in me, at least none that I know of. Welsh, maybe. Mostly English and Danish. Oh, but faith and b'gorra (how do you actually spell that, anyway?), on Saint Patty's day I kin be as Irish as I please.

I may not have Irish blood but, I do have a bit 'o blarney in me.

Corned beef and cabbage are traditional fare for Saint Patrick's Day, along with beer. Being a Mormon I don't do the beer thing, but I still like to wear green and have fun.

One of my favorite Irish recipes is Irish soda bread. Soda bread is made without yeast and is pretty easy to make. It's got a nice crumb and cooks up in no time. I think it's best eaten warm, the day you make it.

I've tried several soda bread recipes. Like everything else, some are better than others. This one's pretty good. It's a variation on a soda bread recipe I got from Emeril Lagasse, one of my chef heroes. This is the first one I've tried that had fruit and spices in it, although I've discovered that's fairly common.

Caraway - Currant Irish Soda Bread


1/2 cup dried currants (use raisins if you can't get currents)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 tablespoons molasses
3/4 cup buttermilk
additional buttermilk and rolled oats for topping


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Boil some water. Put the currants in a bowl and cover with 1 cup of the boiling water. Let them sit and rehydrate for 10 minutes, and then drain well.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the butter and mix together with your fingers until it resembles dry crumbs. Add the caraway seeds, molasses, buttermilk and raisins and mix together with a spoon or hand mixer (with dough hooks) until a wet dough forms. Do not over mix!

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead just a bit, until it all comes together. Shape into a flat round about 1 1/2-inches high. Cut a cross in the center of the dough with a knife, about 1/4 inch deep. Brush the top of the dough with buttermilk and sprinkle with the oats. Don't over do the topping.

Transfer to a baking sheet and bake about 30 or 40 minutes until light brown and cooked through. You should be able to put a knife into the center and have it come out clean.

Remove from the oven and cool slightly on a wire rack before slicing. Serve warm with butter or Dubliner cheese. Yum!

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