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A St. Patrick’s Day Treat – Skillet Soda Bread

Most people really only give much consideration to Irish soda bread on St. Patrick’s Day and may not think about it much the rest of the year. The problem is that most of the soda bread you find in local stores this time of year is very dense, very dry and very crumbly and just does not taste that good. Even some of the mixes I have tried over the years have been disappointing and I wanted to try to make one this year that would have the great crust a soda bread should have but the tender bread that was not tough to eat. I came across this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen last week and it was simple, basic and sounded perfect so I went about giving it a try to see how the bread would be.

Skillet Irish Soda Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup cake flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk

1 tablespoon melted butter, optional

Heat the oven to 400 degrees and adjust an oven rack to the center position. Place the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub it into the flour using your fingers until it is completely incorporated and the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the buttermilk. Work the liquid into the flour mixture using a fork until the dough comes together in large clumps. Turn the dough onto a work surface and knead it gently and briefly until the loose flour is just moistened. The dough will still be scrappy and uneven.

Form the dough into a round about 6 to 7 inches in diameter and place it in a cast iron skillet. Score a deep cross on top of the loaf and place it in the heated oven. Bake the bread until it is nicely browned and a tester comes out clean when inserted into the center of the loaf, about 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the skillet from the oven and brush the top of the loaf with the tablespoon of melted butter, if desired. Cool the bread for at least 30 minutes before slicing it. Serve the bread slightly warm or at room temperature.

I have to say it was the best soda bread I have had in a long time. No it does have raisins, or currants or any of that other stuff in it, but it doesn’t need all of that and that is more of the American version of Irish soda bread anyway. The crust on this bread has a wonderful crunch to it just like you want without it being all crumbly so it doesn’t fall apart when you slice it. The bread itself is nice and tender as well and goes really well with your corned beef and cabbage meal, if that is what you are having. You can make this on a baking sheet if you don’t have a coast iron pan or want to use one, but I think the crust comes out great thanks to the cast iron pan. If you can eat it while it is still warm it is that much better, but this will be okay for a day or two covered before it starts to dry out if you want to make it ahead of time. This will be my go to soda bread recipe from now on.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

skilletsodabread

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Posted by on March 16, 2015 in Breads, Cooking, Holidays

 

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A Couple of Extra Recipes For the Day

I am posting a couple of extra recipes tonight since I had a request for them. One is for a Potato-Leek Soup that I make, and the other is an early St. Patrick’s Day recipe for Irish Soda Bread. First, the Potato-Leek Soup:

Potato and Leek Soup

2 tablespoons butter or extra virgin olive oil

3 medium potatoes, any type, peeled and cut into small cubes

3 leeks, white and light green parts only, washed and sliced into thin rings

Salt and freshly ground pepper

4 cups chicken, beef, or vegetable stock, or water

1/2 to 1 cup heavy cream, sour cream or yogurt

Put the butter or oil in a large, deep pot over medium heat. When the butter melts or the oil is hot, add the vegetables. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until starting to soften, 2 or 3 minutes. Add the stock, adjust the heat so it gently bubbles, and cook until the vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes. Allow the soup to cool slightly and then carefully puree the soup in a blender or food processor or with an immersion blender. Return the soup to the pot you cooked in. Stir in the cream, sour cream or yogurt and re-heat gently; do not let it boil if you use yogurt. Add more salt and pepper as needed and serve.

If you prefer not to deal with the leeks and the cleaning they need, you can substitute a large sliced onion instead. If you want the soup even thicker, you can always add in more potato to thicken it. If you want to make this a Vichyssoise, don’t re-heat the soup. Instead, chill the soup thoroughly before serving. You can also garnish the soup with some minced chives or some crumbled bacon (Sean’s preference, of course). This is a great one pot dinner and even better the next day for lunch or dinner.

Now, for the Irish Soda Bread. I am no bread expert, but I can make this one. A lot of what you can get in the stores I find to be too dry. I know people who can make this better than I do, but this is still a good recipe.

Irish Soda Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for the  counter

1 cup cake flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3 tablespoons butter, softened

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1 cup raisins

Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray generously with vegetable oil spray.

Whisk the flours, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt together in a large bowl. Work 2 tablespoons of the butter into the dry ingredients with a fork until the texture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the buttermilk and raisins with a fork just until the dough begins to come together. Turn out onto a lightly floured counter. Knead just until the dough becomes cohesive and bumpy, about 30 seconds (Do not knead until smooth).

Pat the dough into a 6-inch round about 2 inches thick. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Cut an X into the top of the loaf using a serrated knife. Bake until the loaf is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached, 40 to 45 minutes.

Remove the loaf from the oven and transfer to a wire rack. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and brush it over the top of the bread. Let the loaf cool for 1 hour.

This bread is great not only to go along with your St. Patrick’s Day meal, but also as an accompaniment to soups, like the potato leek soup above, or any stew. It also makes great toast the next day.

I think that’s the end of my posting for today. If you have any questions or comments, or there is a recipe you would like to see or are looking for, just leave a comment, send me an email at IguanaFlats@msn.com, visit my Facebook page, or send me a note on Twitter @IguanaFlats. You can get the links to my Facebook or Twitter pages on the right. I hope you all have a great evening!

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2012 in Breads, Cooking, Potatoes, Soups & Stews

 

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