Luck O’ the Irish


Like most Old World meals, Irish Soda Bread grew out of poverty and what was available. Traditionally made with flour, soda, buttermilk, and salt, this loaf is still a humble indulgence. This version incorporates a small amount of cake flour to soften the crumb and is baked in a cast-iron skillet for a craggy, crunchy crust. You’ll feel the luck of the Irish when you take this golden-brown bread out of the oven. The recipe follows:

Makes 1

3 cups all-purpose flour

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

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus 1 tablespoon melted

1 3/4 cups buttermilk

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk flours, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt together in a large bowl. Add softened butter and use fingers to rub it into flour until completely incorporated. Make well in center of flour mixture and add 1 1/2 cups buttermilk. Using a fork, work buttermilk into flour mixture until dough comes together in large clumps and no dry flour remains in bottom of bowl. Add up to 1/4 cup extra buttermilk if mixture is still dry. Use your hands to gently shape dough into a 6-inch round.

2. Transfer dough to a 12-inch cast-iron skillet (if you don’t have a cast-iron skillet, transfer dough to a baking sheet). Score a deep X on surface of loaf, and place in oven. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Remove from oven, brush with melted butter, and let cool at least 30 minutes.

Perfect with Irish Stew and a cold pint.