Thursday, March 02, 2006

Requests for My Irish Soda Bread Recipe

This time every year my inbox and voicemail are flooded with requests for my grandmother's Irish Soda Bread recipe. It actually came from the kitchen of my great grandmother, Ma Hurney. While caraway seeds are popular in the US and some parts of Ireland, my own Irish family (and most of the inns there) prefer a more sconey-type of bread.

This version is lightly sweet and a bit more cakey than bready. It's a bit like a fluffy, big scone and is very rich. Perfect with marmalade, ice cold butter, or honey. It will store reasonably well for a few days in a tight container but is best warm. We try not to let it last. :)

Ma Hurney's Irish Soda Bread

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cold stick of butter
1 egg
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk or sour milk
1 cup floured raisins or currents (dried cranberries and blueberries work, as well, but are less traditional)

Set your oven to 350ยบ. Grease a pan; a standard pie plate is fine, or a loaf pan. Loaf pans will yield a browner, crustier bread.

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients and mix well. Make a well in the center of the dry mix. Add your egg, swirling in with a fork until you have a gooey patch in the middle. Break the cold butter up into small pieces and finger or fork it into the bowl, bringing dry ingredients together with egg and butter til the whole is mixed loosely. (A few lumps are desirable at this stage.) Mix in sour cream and milk. The result should be halfway between a dough and a batter. DO NOT KNEAD! Add raisins or other dried fruit last.

Pile into your pan. If using a pie plate or round cake pan you should simply heap it highest in the center and allow it to be slightly lumpy in appearance.

Bake fpr 55 minutes or until the entire surface is a gorgeous golden brown.

Serve to good friends with tea, cold butter, honey, and marmalade as quickly as possible. Gossip, laugh, eat, be happy.

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