Luck O’ the Irish

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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.