I am a fan of bread. I love all breads and bread-like items, and Irish soda bread is no exception. This past weekend my mom's neighbor baked her a loaf of soda bread and my mom shared a slice with me. Yum! That was all it took to send me to the kitchen to make a loaf of my own. A few years ago I worked with a lovely woman from Ireland who gave me her recipe for Irish soda bread which I've made and enjoyed in the past. Of course, today I couldn't find it, so I hit the Internet to find a substitute an All Recipes. I went back and forth between this recipe and the one I ultimately chose for a while, but went with the latter for two reasons. 1 - it seemed more "traditional" to me since it was shaped into a rustic loaf rather than baked in a bread pan and 2 - the first recipe said the resulting bread tasted best if you let it sit for several hours to a day, and really, who can let fresh baked bread sit?!?
I'm happy I chose the recipe I did. It came out beautiful and delicious! The wash of buttermilk and melted butter on top makes a nice, slightly sweet crust. I brushed the loaf once before baking and once in the middle of baking and had a ton of butter/buttermilk left, so you can definitely reduce the amount if you want to avoid waste. I added raisins because to me, Irish soda bread needs raisins! I also made my own buttermilk substitute by adding 1 tablespoon lemon juice to 1 cup of milk and letting it sit for 5 minutes. I will definitely bake up this bread again!
Amazingly Easy Irish Soda Bread
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 375. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, sat and margarine. Stir in 1 cup buttermilk and egg. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead slightly. Form dough into a round and and place on prepared baking sheet. In a small bowl combine 1/4 cup melted butter and 1/4 cup buttermilk; brush loaf with mixture. Use a sharp knife to cut an "x" in the top of loaf.
Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. You may brush the loaf with more buttermilk/butter mixture during baking if desired.