Mama Lisa's Irish Soda Bread
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1-3/4 cups buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
- 1 cup raisins pre-soaked (then drained) in apple juice or lager beer
- 1/2 cup dried dried cranberries
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, and place a spare, empty sheet pan on the bottom rack.
- Line a heavy sheet pan with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, place the raisins and dried cranberries and add some beer or apple juice to just cover the fruit. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk the egg until just starting to foam, then add the buttermilk and orange zest, and whisk until well blended. Set aside.
- In the large bowl of an electric mixer, blend all the dry ingredients together on low speed (flour, sugar, salt and baking soda).
- Add the pieces of butter as you mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.
- Introduce the egg/buttermilk liquid into the mixer bowl mix until well combined.
- Drain the raisins/cranberries well, then add to the dough mix with the mixer on low until the fruit is evenly incorporated.
- The resulting dough should be a bit damp and sticky.
- Turn out the dough onto a well floured work surface. Flour your hands, dust a bit of four on top of the dough and knead 3-4 turns, then form into a round loaf shape.
- Gently place the dough onto the parchment paper on the sheet pan. With a very sharp knife or single edged razor blade, cut a cross into the top of the loaf.
- Place your shaped dough onto the middle rack your oven, then immediately pour 1 cup of water onto the empty, pre-heated sheet pan on the bottom rack and close the oven door. This will release steam and help make a good crust.
- Bake for 40 to 60 minutes (depends on your particular oven). You can use a cake tester, pastry needle, or stiff wire to test the bread for doneness... Stick the tester into the dough and pull it out. If it comes out sticky, your bread needs more time. When it comes out clean, your bread is done. It will give a satisfying thump when you knock on its bottom.
- Place your bread on a cooling rack to cool down slowly. You can serve the bread at room temperature, but if you want it warm, wrap loosely in foil to re-heat for about 15 minutes in a 250 degree oven just before serving.
Irish soda bread is fantastic with some salted Irish butter (available at most supermarkets nowadays) or used as a scarpetta while eating your Shepherd's Pie. That's the way we Italians do it...
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
You can also follow Grand Voyage Italy on: