Monday, March 17, 2008

Irish Soda Bread

Note to the home baker: When making Irish soda bread, don't forget the soda.

Because I did. And the loaf of bread, of course, was a rock. A complete and total lump of gross. So much for my attempt to post a beautiful picture of my first-ever loaf of homemade bread. That's okay, though, because the first loaf did appear a little dry to me. Luckily, I planned for failure and bought enough buttermilk for two loaves.

So, as soon as it cooled, I chucked the first loaf and made another. This time I remembered the baking soda and I increased the wet ingredients to accommodate the arid desert climate here in Phoenix. Success! So here it is, my beautiful second-ever loaf of homemade bread.


Classic Irish Soda Bread
seen at Good Things Catered
adapted from Cook's Illustrated

Ingredients:

3 c. bleached all-purpose flour , plus more for work surface
1 c. cake flour
2 TBSP granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/2 tsp table salt
4 TBSP unsalted butter, 3 tablespoons softened + 1 tablespoon melted (original called for 2 softened)
1 3/4 c. buttermilk (original called from 1 1/2 c.)

Directions:

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Whisk flours, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt in large bowl.

3. Work softened butter into dry ingredients with fingertips until texture resembles coarse crumbs.

4. Add buttermilk and stir with a fork just until dough begins to come together.

5. Turn out onto flour-coated work surface; knead until dough just becomes cohesive and bumpy, 12 to 14 turns. (Do not knead until dough is smooth, or bread will be tough.)

6. Pat dough into a round about 6 inches in diameter and 2 inches high; place on greased or parchment-lined baking sheet or in cast-iron pot, if using.

7. Place the loaf on a cookie sheet and cut a cross shape into the top.

8. Bake until golden brown and a skewer inserted into center of loaf comes out clean or internal temperature reaches 180 degrees, 40 to 45 minutes.

9. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter; cool to room temperature, 30 to 40 minutes.

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