In New York City’s west village, you’ll find a wonderful bakery called Amy’s Bread.
Every so often (read: twice a week), I would pop in for their delicious Irish soda bread. I used to slather them in butter, and settle in to people-watch at the counter window.
What I liked about Amy’s, was that they offered their soda bread in 2 different sizes; 1 big loaf (for all of you traditionalists) or personal-sized ‘buns.’ I liked the smaller ones because they were great for dunking in coffee. Besides, 1 big loaf was just too big for little old me and the thought of wasting it drove me nuts. *See tip below.
This recipe is adapted from Ina Garten and I make it every year for St. Patrick’s Day. It’s made with tangy buttermilk and studded with plump, juicy raisins. The texture is wonderfully moist. Ina makes hers into 1 large loaf, but I shape mine into buns so that everyone can have their own. Who doesn’t love a personal-sized portion? Without fail, someone always asks for the recipe.
*Have leftover soda bread? Don’t throw it away- turn them into biscotti! Layer thin slices of soda bread onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake at 325 F for 15-20 minutes or until crisp.
- 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for raisins
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch dice
- 1¾ cups cold buttermilk, shaken
- 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest (optional)
- 1 cup dried currants (I used raisins)
- good quality butter, such as Kerrygold
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet 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, egg, and orange zest (if using) together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the raisins (or currants) 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. Lightly flour a large knife, and cut the dough into 8 equal pieces. Shape each one into a ball and place onto the prepared sheet pan. With a serrated knife, cut an X into the top of each one. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap on the bottom of the bread, it should have a hollow sound.
- Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature with butter.