I admit I didn’t have too high of hopes for this bread. I’d had soda bread once before several years ago and I wasn’t impressed. It was tough and dense – and incredibly dry. With St. Paddy’s coming up though, I figured it was worth giving a homemade version a shot.
I started off with a recipe from Cooks Illustrated, which always bodes well, and then tinkered with a few of the ingredients. What resulted was addictingly delicious. A little dense, but tender and flaky - almost like a biscuit. It's obviously not a yeast bread, but it's so delicious you don't care.
I admit I wasn’t able to wait until it cooled to room temp – I sliced into it right after I got the photo I wanted. I slathered it with a bit of butter and just about died and went to heaven.
There’s no way this will be relegated to a once per year recipe. It’s so quick and easy to make it will likely become my go-to soup bread. 5 minutes to mix it all together and 40 minutes in the oven? That’s a pretty small price to pay for freshly baked bread with dinner.
Irish Soda Bread
adapted from Cooks Illustrated
3 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons cream of tartar
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 ½ cups buttermilk
Preheat oven to 400 ⁰F
Whisk together flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and kosher salt. Work 3 tablespoons butter into mixture with a pastry blender or your fingertips until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add the buttermilk and stir until just combined. Knead in the bowl until the dough just starts to come together and is still craggy and bumpy, adding more buttermilk if necessary. Do not overknead or the bread will be tough and dense. Tuck the ends under to form a ball and place in a skillet or dutch oven. Bake, uncovered, for 40-45 minutes or until internal temperature registers 180⁰F. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter and brush onto the loaf. Let cool to room temperature.