Now, I'm not too picky when it comes to bread. Ok, I'm not too picky when it comes to carbs, period. Irish soda bread, however, has its own special type of yummy. Soda bread is a type of quickbread that uses a chemical reaction between buttermilk and baking soda in order to rise. The buttermilk in the dough contains lactic acid, which forms little bubbles of carbon dioxide when exposed to the baking soda. The result is a dense loaf of goodness with quite a unique texture.
Soda bread is not usually prepared in a loaf pan. The dough is wet, sticky, and messy, and it looks a little like a pitiful deflated balloon when you plop it into your sheet pan and pop it into the oven. But when it comes back out? Oh man.. be ready for deliciousness, especially with this version - which is by Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. The fruity hints from the addition of currants and orange zest make this recipe a surefire winner.
We made this as part of our St. Patrick's Day meal, but you can make it any time of year. Like tonight. Like right now. Just do it - you'll thank me later
I should note that the photos in this post show bread made by halving the recipe above. It was plenty for two people for two days (maybe even more than that!) so keep that in mind if you make the whole thing - it'll be a pretty large loaf!
When we ate at Finnegan's in Universal Studios last year, we were served soda bread with cups of fresh apple butter. When I made this a couple of nights ago, I didn't have any apple butter in the fridge, but I did have a jar of unsweetened applesauce. Did you know you can throw together a quick and yummy apple butter with things you most likely already have lying around your kitchen? It's true! Just combine applesauce with sugar, ginger, and cinnamon in a sauce pan and heat to a low simmer, adjusting ingredients to taste. Start out adding a little at a time and take frequent tastes, adjusting and adding more until it tastes like how you want. Chill in the refrigerator and bam, instant apple butter to smear on your toast, bread, or whatever else!
As I said up top, we served this as part of a St. Patrick's Day meal, so stay tuned for the main dish - Shepherd's Pie!