It's a wonder why soda bread isn't made year-round. With sweet raisins and grassy caraway seeds (and plenty of butter), this couldn't-be-simpler bread will see you through cold winter nights.
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If you're looking for a quick bread to go with your afternoon tea, or your morning fry up, look no further than the humble soda bread. Raisins or currants are an expected addition, but soaking the raisins in port before adding them to the dry ingredients gives them an extra boozy sweetness that really livens up this simple bread.
This is an American-style soda bread. The original Irish soda bread didn't have raisins. Or cranberries. Some American-style Irish soda bread also includes caraway. This one doesn't, but if you like it, feel free to add two to four tablespoons of caraway along with the dry ingredients.
Before we talk about what this recipe is, let's talk about what it's not. It's not a traditional Irish soda bread. Traditional Irish soda bread would be made from flour, baking soda, buttermilk, and salt. That's it. The recipe I'm sharing today is an Americanized version of Irish soda bead: it contains sugar, eggs, caraway seeds, and raisins.
For our final recipe from Forgotten Skills of Cooking by Darina Allen I couldn't resist sharing this riff on an Irish Soda bread known as Spotted Dog. As far as I can tell, the whimsical name either refers to the spotting of raisins on the bread's surface, or it's a derivative of spotted dick, a steamed pudding dotted with currants.
Over the years I've come across nuts in many baked goods. Almond-studded croissants, pistachio-covered brioche, banana bread with pecans—so why not Irish soda bread?
An amalgam of seven different European ethnicities, my siblings and I grew up without a real culinary heritage. If anything, Ma usually made dishes from outside our own hotpot of cultures: goulash, spaghetti and meatballs, etc. The one exception was Irish soda bread. This one is a little hardier than others—more of a quick brown bread than a dessert.