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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.


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You’ll need flour, cake flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, cream of tartar, cold butter and buttermilk.


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Combine the dry ingredients together.


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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.


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Make a well in the center and add 1 1/2 cups of the buttermilk.


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Use a long tined fork to work the ingredients together.


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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.


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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.


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In a preheated 400 degree oven bake approximately 40 minutes.


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Brush with a tablespoon of melted butter.


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Let cool, slice and serve.


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For the brushetta:  Cut thin slices of soda bread and toast.


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Spread some pesto over the toasted slices and add fresh mozzarella . . .


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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.


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Enjoy!


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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