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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Irish Soda Bread

Well, sort of.  Purists will tell you that Irish Soda Bread is made with buttermilk, but I never have buttermilk, so we're not going to use any!  I have made this bread several times, and it's great for accompanying dinner or just by itself.  It requires no milk, yeast, or butter, if you're lactose intolerant--you can use olive oil as a substitute in this recipe, although I used butter.  It's also very inexpensive to make.  Here's how:


You will need a cookie sheet to bake this bread

1 1/2 cups water
2 tsp apple cider vinegar (I prefer Bragg's)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
4 cups flour
1 tbsp butter plus a little more to grease your cookie sheet

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees

Mix all your dry ingredients, forming a well in the middle once they are well-mixed.

Add your vinegar to your water, then dump it all into the well.  Mix.

Once it starts to look like this, begin to hand-knead the dough.  It's important to knead as little as possible, as there are bubbles from the vinegar and baking soda that will cause the bread to rise in baking.  If you knead too much, all the bubbles will be released.

When the dough is all one piece and uniform, transfer it to a floured surface.

Press the dough until it is 1.5-2 inches thick. 

Transfer this dough to your greased baking sheet, and use a large knife to cut an "X" about halfway through the dough.  This will help it rise.  Don't ask me how.

Put this in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, turn the heat down to 250 degrees and bake for 30 more minutes.

While your bread is baking, it is a good time to melt your butter.  I didn't feel like exploding anything else in my microwave, so here's a neat trick.  Your back left burner usually functions as a plate-warmer when your oven is on, so there is heat coming through it.  I placed my butter in a ceramic ramekin and left it on this burner.  When the bread is ready, the butter will be too!

About 15 minutes later...

To test if your bread is done, pick it up with some oven mitts and tap on the bottom.  It should make a slight "hollow" sound.

When time is up, take your bread out of the oven, brush with butter (especially in the cracks) and allow to cool.  I don't use a cooling rack, because the crust is rather thick, and using a cooling rack will make it much crunchier than usually preferred.  Just leave it on the baking sheet to cool.

Here is how it looks right out of the oven, after I brushed the butter on it:

And after it's relatively cool (I recommending eating at least one slice before it's completely cool, there's nothing like it!


Oh, wait, it needs one more thing:

That's better.  I also recommend some dipping oil with Italian herbs, or some homemade jam.  Enjoy!

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