Very early this morning, the Chicago River was dyed kelly green. This tradition has been going on since 1962. This means that in my kitchen, the time has come to pull out a few Irish recipes to enjoy leading up to St. Patrick's Day. My grandmother made soda bread year around. As far as I know, she never wrote down the recipe. I've tried many different recipes to duplicate her loaf and this one comes the closest. She baked hers in two loaf pans. I opt for the more traditional round loaf since it is a rather sticky batter that I feel would stick to loaf pans no matter how well greased. Sliced and slathered with sweet butter and orange marmalade, it is an early spring treat.
Irish Soda Bread
4 cups flour, plus extra for raisins and candied orange peel
5 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 Tbsp cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp grated orange zest
1 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup candied orange peel
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
1. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine on low speed for 30 seconds. Scatter the butter in and mix, on low speed, until the butter is crumbled into the flour.
2. In another bowl, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg and orange zest together. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture for about 1 minute or until flour is incorporated. Combine the raisins and candied orange peel with one tablespoon of flour and then mix into the dough. The dough will be very wet and sticky.
3. Liberally flour a wooden board and scrape the dough out onto the board. Using well-floured hands (I used a dough scraper too), knead the dough a few times and form into a rough, round loaf. Place the loaf onto the prepared sheet pan and cut an X into the top (not easy with the soft dough--I ended up cutting a rough X with kitchen scissors). Bake for 45-50 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. The loaf should sound hollow when tapped.
4. Cool on a rack. Delicious served warm or at room temperature.