This is a recipe I got many moons ago from a friend when we lived in Cambridge (that’s Massachusetts, not UK). She called it Irish Soda Bread, so I called it Irish Soda Bread for all these years. Until I started reading about Irish soda bread last year. Evidently real Irish soda bread does not have raisins or currants, and definitely does not have caraway seeds. These additions are more American than Irish. Like fortune cookies are to the Chinese.
At it’s most basic, soda bread is flour, butter, milk and leavening, period. The addition of sugar and flavoring agents makes this more of a cake or large scone, and sometimes goes by the colorful moniker, Spotted Dog. Whatever you call it, it’s one you will want to have in your recipe files for a fast and tasty treat. One deserving a large gob of butter and a steamy hot beverage. Enjoy!
For a more traditional style soda bread, check out Mikaela’s version @ Baguette Taste, Wonder Bread Budget.
Adapted from D’s family recipe
Makes one 1 pound loaf
2 cups (200g) all-purpose flour
4 tsp (15g) baking powder (not a typo, that really says 4 teaspoons)
½ tsp sea salt
1 TBL sugar
3 TBL (43g) cold unsalted butter
½ cup (75g) raisins or currants
1 TBL caraway seeds
â…” cup (160 ml) cold milk
Pre-heat oven to 425F/220C, and place rack in the middle. Dust baking sheet with flour.
Combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a medium sized bowl, and whisk together to aerate dry ingredients. Cut cold butter into small dice, then cut into flour mixture with pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture resembles petite peas. Work quickly so butter remains cold. If butter begins to soften, put bowl in refrigerator to chill butter again.
Add raisins and caraway seeds and toss to distribute through the flour. Dribble half of milk into dough and start to bring dough towards center. Dribble remaining milk around edges of bowl to moisten dry flour mixture clinging to sides of bowl. Bring dough together — handle dough only enough to pat it into a large circle, about 6 inches across and 2-3 inches deep. (Note: the less the dough is handled, the happier and more tender this Dog will be.)
Place dough on prepared baking sheet. Cut a deep cross over the top and down the sides of the dough circle. Prick the dough with a fork or knife in each quarter.
Place baking sheet in oven and reduce temperature to 400f/200C. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown. Test after the first 30 minutes: tap the bottom of the loaf — a hollow thump means you better have your butter ready! Otherwise, bake for another 5 minutes. Do not overbake or you will have a St. Paddy’s Day doorstop!
This is best eaten the day it’s baked, and best within the first 30 minutes it comes out of the oven — all the better to barely warm your “pat” of butter without quite melting it…
Don’t be shy about the butter!
And yes, please do use real butter…