In Ireland, it is traditional to cut a large cross atop your soda bread before baking to “let the fairies out.” Otherwise they may end up jinxing your bread!
Nothing goes better with a hearty stew than Irish soda bread and this is my favorite recipe from Ireland’s celebrity chef Darina Allen. Her famous Ballymaloe Cookery School is located in County Cork and is surrounded by its own 100 acres of organic gardens. For a glimpse of the cooking instruction offered at Ballymaloe and a large selection of free recipes, visit www.cookingisfun.ie .
|Irish Soda Bread|
- 4 cups firmly packed all-purpose flour, unbleached
- 1 level teaspoon salt
- 1 level teaspoon baking soda
- generous 1/2 cup raisins
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1 3/4 cups buttermilk
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- In a large bowl, sieve the flour, salt, and baking soda. Add raisins and rosemary.
- Make a well in the center and add buttermilk all at once.
- Using one hand, mix in flour from the sides of the bowl.
- Dough should be soft and you may need to add more buttermilk, depending on flour used.
- When it comes together, place onto floured surface area.
- Just tidy up the shape, then turn over.
- Pat into a 1.5 inch circle.
- Cut a large X across the top to help the loaf cook evenly.
- Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce temperature to 400 degrees and continue baking for another 20-30 minutes, or until done. (If in doubt to doneness, tap the bottom of the bread – finished product will sound hollow).
It is an Irish tradition to score the soda bread with a large X to “let the fairies out” so they won’t jinx your bread while it’s baking. Children are especially eager to follow this direction.
To celebrate the week before St. Patrick’s Day, this is another recipe adapted from Georgina Campbell’s Irish Country House Cooking. Seriously, have you bought this book yet? Find it at Amazon online here.