My search for an Irish Soda Bread recipe worth sharing started over a week ago. When I picture Irish Soda Bread, my mouth starts to go dry and I frantically start looking for a glass of milk to chug. You see, when I think of Irish Soda Bread, I think of a dry but nicely crumbly bread that I can only advise eating if you slather it with butter and fry it until it until it turns golden brown. Otherwise, you’ll be looking for a glass of milk too.
Last week, that changed when I tried a sample of so called Irish Soda Bread at Fresh & Easy. I grabbed a drive by sample as I blew through the produce section on my way to pick up something in another aisle. It was soft, slightly chewy, and slightly sweet. It had a nice golden sweet crust sprinkled with coarse decorative sugar. It was GOOD.
I took a detour on my way out and went through the produce section again to get another sample. (Don’t judge!) This was Irish Soda Bread?! No way. Of all places to find something like this, it’s at a local grab and go mini grocery store? I guess I was the one judging here!
So I grabbed a loaf and took it home to “just have a little”.
By the next morning, it was gone. Carb loading much? I ate enough carbs to run a marathon. So what did I do? I went to work, sat on my butt all day, and looked for a way to one-up Fresh & Easy.
I started with the traditional Irish Soda Bread recipes that only called for a few ingredients. Traditionally, this is how they were made. Well, they were also eaten as a way to sop up your soup, so that’s not a good sign if I want moist.
I did learn something valuable here though. Though they did use buttermilk, it’s not like OUR buttermilk. The buttermilk sold in the US is a lower fat content than what is available elsewhere. Instead of using buttermilk, I substituted whole milk and “made” buttermilk by adding a tablespoon of vinegar. You could also use other acids like lemon juice, but I didn’t want to add that flavor. Believe it or not, but you’ll never know there’s vinegar in here after you cook it.
I also substituted 3/4 c of the total amount of milk with plain yogurt. This thickened the milk to a buttermilk consistency and gave it an extra tang to finally reach buttermilk status.
I used carraway seeds to give it that unique soda bread flavor, but (ah! don’t shoot!) I didn’t add currants or raisins. The traditional recipes don’t use them because they’re sweet, so I gave that approach a try. I think the recipe was sweet enough without adding dried fruit, but if you want to add some, I’d suggest using currants.
Currants are a lot smaller than raisins so they would work well with the crumbly nature of this soda bread. Regular plump raisins are too big though. I’d suggest taking the extra minute to chop the raisins down to roughly a quarter of their original size, then toss them in the dry ingredients to separate the pieces.
The coarse sugar on top was an absolute must. It gave it a nice, thick discernible crust that couldn’t be attained with regular granulated sugar.
The best way to eat it was actually what I snapped a picture of. A couple little slices of good quality SALTED butter like Plugra. Eaten while standing at the kitchen counter. (Hey we said no judging!)
Take that, Fresh & Easy.
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 T baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 T caraway seeds
- 1 cup currants (or raisins)
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 T white vinegar
- ¾ cup plain yogurt
- 2 oz unsalted butter, melted
- 1 T whole milk
- 1 T raw sugar
- Preheat the oven to 375 F.
- Spray a 9 by 5 inch loaf or cake pan with pan spray. (This loaf will spread, so don't use a large pan or you'll get a thin loaf.)
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, sugar, caraway seeds, and (optional) currants.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the whole milk and vinegar. Let it sit for 5 minutes then add the yogurt and egg.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Use a bench scraper to lightly fold the ingredients together just until it's mixed. This is a wet dough so it will be very sticky and relaxed. We don't want to add any more gluten than we have to, so stop folding as soon as everything is mixed together.
- Add the melted butter and fold the dough until you no longer see streaks of oily areas.
- Gently scrape the dough into the prepared pan. Brush the top with 1 T of milk then sprinkle generously with raw sugar.
- Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a tester comes out with only a trace amount of moist crumb.
- Remove and let cool until room temperature, then turn out from the pan. Use a serrated knife to cut slices or wrap with plastic wrap and store at room temperature. It's best eaten the day of, so go crazy!