I only make Irish soda bread once a year. Not because it's difficult--it really isn't. But because it's so darn easy and delicious that I'd do nothing but sit atthetable, eating slice after slice of the bread (preferablywarm out of the oven), slathered in butter and honey.
In honor of St. Patrick's day coming up, and in advance of showing you a fun and special party I threw together on Saturday, I wanted to share my family's favorite Irish soda bread recipe.
Basically, you just push the coil down a bunch of times (squishy squishy squish!), and in just a few seconds, you have a perfectly beaten, frothy egg. It's way faster and more comprehensive than using a whisk or a fork.
I don't know how easy these things are to find these days, unfortunately. I had a friend, an accomplished baker herself, come over while I was using my egg beater and exclaim, "Oh that's what it's for! I've seen it in my mom's kitchen, and I always thought it was a really crappy whisk!" It does make a pretty pathetic whisk, but it's awesome at what it's intended to do. And fun. I can't emphasize the sheer enjoyment of the boingy, squishy action of beating an egg with this tool enough. If you ever see one in a resale shop, pick it up. It's worth it.
Back to the recipe.
4) Stir the wet and dry ingredients together until blended. Place the dough on a floured surface, and knead until smooth, about two or three minutes.
Note: remember to take your rings off before this step.
5) Divide dough in twopartsand shape into smooth, round loves. Put each round of dough in its own greased 8" pie or cake pan, and press down until the dough fills the pan. Use a floured, sharp knife to cut a cross in the top of each loaf. Each cut should be about a half inch deep.
6) Bake 35-40 minutes at 375, until the bread is a light golden brown color.
This stuff is seriously delicious, especially straight out of the oven, warm, with butter and honey.
And for what it's worth, the recipe is pretty forgiving, too. I forgot to add the butter the last time I made the bread. It was still darn good! It works fabulously with egg beaters instead of real eggs, and milk curdled with lemon juice instead of buttermilk. Of course, I recommend the recipe as written for the very best product.
Is it authentic? Perhaps not the most authentic recipe out there. But it's seriously delicious. Tom Bracken, head of the Bracken School of Irish Dancing, an actual Irish man, gave the bread rave reviews yesterday, and said it was the best Irish soda bread he's had in this country. Until I can get to Ireland and do an exhaustive search for the best Irish soda bread out there (I'm ready and willing, if anyone wants to sponsor this effort, by the way), this recipe is good enough for me.