Martha Stewart Living (March 2009)
For our St. Patrick's Day dinner of corned beef and cabbage, there was no better pairing than a fresh, warm loaf of crusty Irish soda bread.
The bread has a delicious wheaty earthiness, scented with the almost-rye flavor of caraway seeds. Studded with plump, dark raisins, it's a great accompaniment to any meal. But it made our St. Patrick's Day feast even more special.
We actually made Irish soda bread for St. Patrick's Day last year as well. In fact, both the breads tasted pretty much the same (which is actually a little surprising, since this recipe includes a cup of wheat bran).
The biggest difference was the overall shape of the bread. Last year, we baked it in a cast-iron skillet, which gave the bread a marvelous crustiness, somewhat like skillet cornbread. This recipe, from the March 2009 issue of Martha Stewart Living, simply bakes as a heaping loaf in the center of a baking sheet. Both recipes were great, but we preferred the skillet version, just for the extra crunch of the crust.
That said, this year's bread was a huge hit -- warm and inviting and delicious. Spread with a pat of salted Irish butter, it was a fantastic mate for the corned beef.
Makes 1 loaf
* 1 1/3 cups whole milk
* 1/3 cup apple-cider vinegar
* 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface and dusting
* 2 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
* 1 cup unprocessed wheat bran
* 1/4 cup caraway seeds
* 1 cup (5 ounces) raisins
* Salted butter, preferably Irish, for serving
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Mix milk and vinegar in a small bowl, and let stand until thickened, about 5 minutes.
2. Whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. Cut in unsalted butter with a pastry cutter or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add bran, caraway seeds, and raisins; stir to distribute.
3. Pour milk mixture into flour mixture; stir until dough just holds together but is still sticky. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Pat and press the dough gently into a round, dome-shaped loaf, about 7 inches in diameter. Transfer to prepared sheet.
4. Lightly dust top of loaf with flour. With a sharp knife, cut an X into the top, 3/4 inch deep. Bake, rotating halfway through, until loaf is golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour, 10 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Soda bread is best eaten the day it is made; serve with salted butter.