In honor of St. Patrick's Day, we bring you an Irish soda bread recipe courtesy of Rory O'Connell. Epicurious.com recently interviewed Irish chef Rory O'Connell about his experiences with Irish soda bread. According to Chef O'Connell, traditional Irish soda bread is made with flour, baking soda, buttermilk and salt. However, today, you can find Irish Soda Bread with raisins, caraway seeds and even candied orange peel.
These new versions of soda bread have caused many arguments over what is traditional Irish soda bread. According to the Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread, soda bread with raisins is actually called "Railway Cake." The Society subscribes to Chef O'Connell's version of traditional Irish soda bread. And it's not alone. The Society's Facebook page has 1,294 members. Who knew something as simple as bread could cause such a controversy?
Regardless of which recipe you choose to use, Irish soda bread is an easy and fast way to celebrate St. Paddy's Day, especially if you aren't a Guinness fan (if that's even possible). We decided to add a little brown sugar to our version after finding another recipe from British celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
Irish Soda Bread (Adapted from Rory O'Connell's recipe)
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Preheat oven to 445 degrees. Grease baking sheet. Sift the flour, baking soda, salt and brown sugar in a big bowl. Slowly mix in the buttermilk until moist clumps form. You may not need the full 1 ½ cups of buttermilk. Knead the dough in the bowl or floured surface for about a minute. Do not over-knead the dough, or the bread will be tough. The dough should be soft but not sticky. If it is sticky, add a little more flour. Shape the kneaded dough into a ball, then cut a deep "x" in the top. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes. Then turn down the oven to 400 degrees and cook for 15 - 20 minutes. The bread should be golden brown and hollow when tapped at the bottom. Serve the bread with butter and jelly or honey.