Over the years I've come across nuts in many baked goods. Almond-studded croissants, pistachio-covered brioche, banana bread with pecans...
I've heard arguments for and against nuts in bread. Nuts have the potential to add flavor and texture to an otherwise plain (and some may say) boring bread. Add enough nuts and the extra protein can turn a slice of toast into a balanced meal! But purists argue that nuts distract from the simple enjoyment of chewy crusts and a yeasty loaves.
Then there's the question of whether the nuts should just be sprinkled on top of the crust or worked into the dough?
In honor of St. Patrick's Day, a day to celebrate all things Irish, I'm sharing a nutty recipe for Irish Soda Bread. This version includes currants, a traditional addition to what is a pretty bare-bones recipe, as well as toasted walnuts, a modern-day addition I've noticed springing up in many bakeries over the last few years.
Has anyone else come across walnuts in Irish Soda Bread? How do you feel about nuts in your bread?
Nutty Irish Soda Bread
About the author: Lee Zalben was a PB&J-loving kid that grew up to be the founder and president of Peanut Butter & Co., which began as a Greenwich Village sandwich shop serving nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and expanded to include the now-famous line of all natural flavored peanut butter. Lee is a graduate of Vassar College and enjoys traveling the world in search of interesting foods made with peanuts, tree nuts, and seeds. When he's not working, eating, flying or writing, he enjoys scuba diving and training elephants.
- 3 cups all purpose flour, sifted
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup currants, soaked in water for 10 minutes
- 1 cup walnuts, toasted, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly flour a baking sheet.
Mix all purpose flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
Stir in soaked currants and chopped walnuts to the flour mixture.
Pour in the buttermilk slowly into the mixture, gathering dough into a ball.
Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface just until it holds together. Shape into a 6-inch round.
Place on prepared baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 40 to 45 minutes.
Let sheet cool down before transferring the bread to a wire rack to cool.