Many people associate St. Patrick’s Day with green beer and time to party, but in my house it’s a time to celebrate our Irish heritage with traditional Emerald Isle foods. One of my favorite Irish bites is Soda Bread. Soda bread, named for the use of baking soda as the leavening agent, is a slightly sweet, white bread studded with raisins. It is made from just a few ingredients and can be whipped up without any fuss. It is perfect right out of the oven or toasted with a smear of butter. Pair it with a strong cup of tea and you might as well be in the Emerald Isle itself. Here’s how to make them:
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 stick of very cold butter, cubed
1 3/4 cup cold buttermilk
1 cup raisins
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Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and sugar.
Next add your cold cubed butter. Using a fork and knife or a pastry cutter work the butter into the flour mixture.
Continue to work the butter into the flour until it is the size of peas.
Make a well in the center of your flour mixture. This is where you will pour in the wet ingredients.
Now whisk the egg into your cold buttermilk until fully incorporated.
Pour the egg and buttermilk mixture into the flour. Now, using a hand-mixer on low speed, mix the eggs and buttermilk into the flour.
Mix until just incorporated. The dough will look lumpy and it will be very wet, this is good.
Next add raisins and mix until evenly distributed.
Dump the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead a few times until the dough forms a smooth ball.
After kneading the dough four or five times it will start to come together and become slightly elastic.
Transfer the dough to a sheet tray lined with parchment. Using a very sharp knife mark the top of the dough with a large “X.”
Place the dough in the preheated oven. Bake for 25 minutes and then rotate the pan and bake for 25 minutes more. Test the bread by inserting a toothpick into the center. If the toothpick has wet dough clinging to it, the bread needs to bake longer. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes. The total bake time will be between 50 and 60 minutes depending on your oven.
Once the bread is golden brown and the test toothpick comes out clean, it is finished baking. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. While the bread is still slightly warm, slice and enjoy.