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:
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.