I know, I’m jumping on the bandwagon. But every year it’s the same: I forget how much I love Irish soda bread, those big, dense, rustic loaves that are really like enormous biscuits, only a bit tweedier with a light, crunchy crust. And I’m a sucker for all bread served in wedges.
See? It’s like a big biscuit. You cut in the butter, or rub it with your fingers. Warm wedges make perfect vehicles for butter and jam in the morning, and when else can you get away with eating biscuits for dinner? I don’t know what all the hubbub over baguettes is about – soda bread is far easier on the teeth, and a wedge balances perfectly on the edge of a bowl of soup, stew or chili.
And takes very well to a handful of grated cheese, if you’re so inclined. Just sayin’.
Irish Soda Bread
adapted from Gifts from the Kitchen (Douglas & McIntyre)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, chilled and cut into bits
1 1/2 cups buttermilk or plain yogurt, thinned with milk to the consistency of buttermilk
Preheat oven to 375F.
In a large bowl, stir together the flours, salt, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the butter and blend (or pulse the mixture in the food processor) until well combined and crumbly. If you like, add grated cheese, herbs, nuts or dried fruit at this point. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and add the buttermilk, stirring until blended.
Knead the dough until it comes together in one piece, then knead the ball 10 times. Place on a baking sheet or in a buttered 8″ or 9″ round cake pan.
Bake for 1 hour, or until golden and the bread sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.
Makes one loaf.