Nothing in this world is more terrifying than the thought of a bread-free existence. When an ingredient such as this, has taken over your entire life, and has been a part of you for as long as you can remember, how can one possibly think of living without it? Bread has been such an important staple, ever since we were children. All those endless peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, growing up. Opening our lunch bags and seeing those two heavenly slices of white bread with globs and globs of pb&j in the middle. Bless our parents for packing us lunch. We loved them so much, we ate them everyday. But that was just the beginning. As we got older and evolved, so did our sophistication for bread. Gone are the days of peanut butter and jelly, and here are the days of roast beef, oven roasted turkey, caramelized onions and dijon mustard sandwiches. We welcome them. We embrace them with open arms.
Bread is no longer just a vehicle for sliced meats, cheese and vegetables. It is now also a utensil for dips, spreads and flavored oils. It is something we snack on to get us through the day. It is toasted and chunked to make salads taste better and soups heartier and more substantial. Bread is made into crumbs and used as a coating to make things crispy. It is used as a side dish to numerous dinners and lunches. Big events like Thanksgiving wouldn’t be complete with our bread, in the forms of rolls. So why is bread so undeniably irresistible?
Well the answer lies in its ability to change and adapt. The beauty of bread is that it is unique and versatile. It is the one thing that ties so many countries together. A common thread, we all share. Whether it be croissants, pita, scones, tortillas, naan or fry breads, we each have a bread that is a specialty in our homes and in our hearts. Ireland, for instance has soda bread. A hearty and rustic loaf made of white flour, buttermilk and often flavored with ingredients, such as currants. Whatever language we speak in and outside of our homes, there is one language we all understand, and that is bread. Fresh out of the oven, warm with delight, bread. So let’s lift a slice to all those bread makers out there. And to all who think that making bread is just too difficult, why don’t you try this one? It’ll make you look like a rock star.
An easy recipe with only a few ingredients.
How do we normally start?
That’s right, you guessed it.
An empty mixing bowl.
To the bowl, add the flour.
To the flour, add the remaining dry ingredients.
How about some salt?
Okay, so normally, I would say attach the dough hook, because this is a doughy bread after all. But I find that for this particular recipe, the paddle attachment works the best.
So long story short, just use the paddle, okay? Okay!
You can use a spoon and do it by hand of course, if you’d like.
Mix the dry ingredients together, on low.
It’s now time for the butter.
We’re going to need 5 sticks of butter.
I kid, I kid.
We only need four tablespoons. Just four tablespoons.
I know that must be difficult for some. Four little ol’ tablespoons, can’t possibly be enough…
But it is! Make sure the butter is extremely cold.
Cut it in slices.
Cut the butter into a small dice.
Throw the diced butter into the dry ingredients.
Cut in the butter into the dry ingredients. Start on low and gradually work your way up to medium-high.
The mixture should resemble course crumbs the size of peas.
It’s now time for the wet ingredients.
Grab the buttermilk.
Crack in an egg.
Give it a good whisk.
While the mixer is running on low speed, slowly stream in the buttermilk.
Mix until just combined. The dough will be slightly sticky and wet.
Try not to over mix the dough, at this stage.
But once completely combined, it’ll look like this.
You’ll need a clean work surface.
Somewhere you can do a little kneading.
I like to use a wooden cutting board.
Lightly dust flour onto the board.
Dump the dough onto the floured surface, and lightly sprinkle flour on top of the dough as well.
Remember, the dough will be sticky, so the flour will make it easier to handle.
Knead the dough about 5-6 times, just to form it into somewhat of a flattened ball.
Irish soda bread is supposed to look lumpy, rustic and free formed.
So you aren’t kneading to make it smooth, but rather just kneading until it comes together.
Place the kneaded, and formed soda bread onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
It is almost ready to hit the oven. Almost.
Before we bake it, we need to do a classic “Soda Bread” cut on the top.
Using a very sharp serrated knife or a clean razor blade, make an “X” on top of the bread.
Bake in a preheated 375° oven for about 44 to 55 minutes.
Rotate the pan half-way through cooking.
The soda bread is done when it is golden brown and when a toothpick is inserted in the center and comes out clean.
Transfer the baked bread onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
Once the bread has cooled, give the loaf a slice.
Look at it, all crusty and delicious looking.
Serve yourself a slice or two.
Pop open a cold beer, if you’re of legal drinking age of course. Candid appetite does not condone underage drinking. Thank you very much.
Okay, its ready. Go ahead and take a bite……oh wait!
It’s missing something.
What can it be?
Ooh that’s right, butter. Good ol’ yummy butter.
Now, its ready to be eaten.
Enjoy, but be warned, you won’t be able to stop at just one slice. If you make some and invite me over, make sure you have two, because I can eat a whole loaf, myself.
Irish Soda Bread
Taken and adapted from The Barefoot Contessa.
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
- 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 cup dried currants (Optional)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.
With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, and egg together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the currants, if using, with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.
Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an “X” into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.
Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy.