Soda bread: it’s not just for St. Patrick’s Day anymore.
OK, so that is a little misleading, because as usual I did make this for St. Patrick’s Day, only, you know, on St. Patrick’s Day, leading me to not post it until after the holiday. But seriously, as soon as I bit into one of these all I could do was kick myself for having gotten out of the habit of baking scones. And yes, let’s just call a spade a spade. These American style individual soda breads are just that: scones. With the traditional flavors incorporated by generations of Irish Americans living in the land of plenty, i.e., butter, sugar, raisins and caraway seeds (someday someone will have to explain to me where the caraway seeds come from). Heaven.
Which is not to say that playing with other flavors is not delicious as well. In the days after St. Patrick’s Day, I went on a soda bread tear. For example, in the bread above, I used 2 cups of all purpose flour, 1 cup of white whole wheat flour, and 1 cup of hazelnut meal. I left out the caraway seeds and subbed dried tart cherries for the raisins. These were delicious also, but I should have made them even smaller still as they were heartier than the traditional, all all-purpose flour version.
Now let’s talk about size. In the past I have always made the traditional, single round loaf. It was good, but soda bread does not last long before going stale, and a sliced large loaf of bread goes stale even more quickly. Don’t get me wrong, soda bread will always be best the day it is baked, but with these smaller rounds, if they are not sliced into, they are still pretty tasty the next day. Further, the best part of soda bread is the crusty, browned surface, lightly or liberally sprinkled with sugar–your choice. With smaller rounds, you get even more of that surface area.
Boy writing about them now, 2 weeks since I made my last batch, I can feel the craving coming on again…
- 4 cups AP flour, plus extra for shaping balls
- ½ cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
- 1 t salt
- 1½ t baking powder
- 4 T/1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cubed
- 2 cups dark raisins
- 1½ T caraway seeds
- 1 large egg
- 1⅓ cups full fat buttermilk
- 1 t baking soda
- Preheat the oven 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
- Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar in a large bowl. Cut the cold butter into the flour mix–I use cold hands to rub it in, until you have what looks kind of like gravel, with butter no larger than pea-sized lumps. Mix in the raisins and caraway seeds.
- Whisk together the egg and buttermilk. Whisk in the baking soda. Fold the liquid mixture gently into the flour mixture until evenly moistened–do not worry about lumps.
- Set some extra flour out in a shallow bowl. Flour your hands thoroughly and remove about ⅙ of the dough. Pat into a circle and place on the prepared cookie sheet. Repeat, including the flouring of your hands, until you have 6 large balls on a baking sheet.
- With a sharp knife, slash an X into the top of each ball. Sprinkle granulated or sanding sugar over each ball.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the soda bread is golden brown and its internal temperature registers 170 F.
- These scone-ish soda breads will last for 24 hours, but are best fresh.
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