If you want an easy bread to make for a crowd, Irish soda bread is hard to beat. Since it uses soda as a leavening agent instead of yeast it takes less time to make. A slice of this hearty bread tastes so good alongside a bowl of your favorite soup or stew. I enjoy that first slice fresh out of the oven, warm and crusty. Even toasted with butter and honey is a treat. While looking around other blogs I stumbled across some inspiring ideas. My favorite was a grilled cheese sandwich from justataste.com. It looked amazing and although I didn’t make Kelly’s grilled cheese, I did toast a few slices and topped them with a spinach pesto, fresh mozzarella, tomato slices and bacon bits for a tasty bruschetta.
You’ll need flour, cake flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, cream of tartar, cold butter and buttermilk.
Combine the dry ingredients together.
Add chunks of butter to the dry ingredients and cut in with a pastry cutter until butter is no larger than the size of a pea.
Make a well in the center and add 1 1/2 cups of the buttermilk.
Use a long tined fork to work the ingredients together.
It’s still too dry so add the remaining 1/4 cup of buttermilk and mix until all the dry ingredients are incorporated and a dough forms.
With floured hands form the dough into a mound that will fit an 8 or 9 inch cast iron skillet. Place the dough in the skillet and with a sharp knife cut a 3/4 inch slice across the dough in the form of an X.
In a preheated 400 degree oven bake approximately 40 minutes.
Brush with a tablespoon of melted butter.
For the brushetta: Cut thin slices of soda bread and toast.
Spread some pesto over the toasted slices and add fresh mozzarella . . .
Add a slice or two of tomato and a few bacon bits over top. Back in the toaster oven for 3 – 4 minutes on the broiler setting to melt the cheese.
Irish Soda Bread adapted from Cooks Illustrated
3 cups All Purpose Flour
1 cup Cake Flour
2 tablespoons Sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1 1/2 teaspoons Cream of Tatar
1 1/2 tespooons Salt
4 tablespoons Unsalted Butter, cut into chunks plus 1 tablespoon melted Butter for brushing top crust
1 3/4 cups Buttermilk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients of flour, cake flour, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt. Cut 4 tablespoons butter into chunks and add to flour mixture. Use a pastry cutter to combine butter until well mixed and butter is no larger than the size of a small pea. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add 1 1/2 cups of the buttermilk. Use a fork to work the ingredients together. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of buttermilk and mix until a dough forms.
Form the dough into a mound that will fit into an 8 or 9 inch cast iron skillet. Use a sharp knife to cut a large X across the top of the loaf approximately 3/4 inch deep. Bake for 40 minutes or until the crust is brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Brush melted butter over the top of the loaf. Cool for a few minutes, slice and serve. Bread tastes best if eaten on the day it is made.
Makes 1 (8 inch) round loaf