Irish Soda bread is a fairly quick bread to make for dinner. It gives you moist bread with a tender crumb that can actually be sliced and used for sandwiches. This is a great bread to start with if you are new to bread baking – it is quick and requires no yeast! It’s also a great accompaniment to our two-egg omelette recipe we’re teaching you to make in “Home Cooking With Kat & Friends” on Thursday, June 4, at 7 p.m.
Gluten-Free Test Kitchen
Our kitchen in the Dogwood Hills Guest Farm Loft is totally gluten free. We have, over the years, tried many different flours to find what we like. We came across Authentic Foods Steve’s Bread Flour as we were making French pastry. Patricia Austin recommended it in her French pastry book. This flour blend was a game changer and did not contain sorghum (not my daughter Grace’s favorite taste, and she’s our resident pastry chef). So, we ordered the Steve’s Bread Flour bulk bag and started experimenting with our recipes to see how it converted. When we got to the Irish soda bread we almost stopped! I could not believe the texture of this bread, how we could slice it to use for sandwiches. Crazy, right? It has just about become our daily bread and is a regular in the kitchen for both us as a family and for our farmstay guests.
Developing the Recipe
This recipe stays well enough to use for breakfast, as well. It is a standby in the Dogwood Hills Guest Farm’s Loft kitchen along with English Muffins and Buttermilk Cornbread. Our recipe, which we originally modified from Bob’s Red Mill, has been adjusted to use our fresh buttermilk and Steve’s Bread Flour from Authentic Foods. It can be made in a seven-inch skillet for a tall round loaf or divided into two small skillets – one for dinner and one for breakfast. We also like to put a small round of parchment in the bottom of the skillet. The acid from the buttermilk can sometimes react with the skillet, and I like to leave the bread in the skillet for the next morning.
Buttermilk – Our Secret Ingredient
The buttermilk at Dogwood Hills is one of our shining stars. A thick, viscous, full-cream wonder that not only adds incredible flavor but, also, adds an unsurpassed moisture to our breads that lasts for days. Even our buttermilk cornbread is still moist the next day. Throw in eggs from our hens, and you’re already off to a good start. The recipe is fairly simple and uses basic pantry ingredients. If you are using a gluten-free blend one-for-one for flour, it uses a bit more flour. We started the experiment with Steve’s Bread Flour at 75 percent of the one-for-one.
Preheat oven to 400˚ and set rack in the middle, leaving room for the bread to rise quite a bit.
Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl with whisk.
Add the cubed butter and cut in with a pastry blender or two knives (crisscrossed to “snip” the butter into bits). Work the butter into the flour until it is the size of small peas.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, add the buttermilk and whisk to combine.
Pour the wet into the dry and stir to just bring together. You don’t want to over mix here.
This is the point to decide if you need a bit more flour or buttermilk. Don’t over do it – just a bit at a time if needed.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly dusted surface and gently need the dough a couple of times to smooth it out.
At this point, you need to decide on your pan size, either a seven-inch skillet or two five-inch skillets. The smaller ones won’t rise quite as high, but are a good size for a meal. The seven-inch skillet will rise a bit higher – that’s the reason you need to make sure the rack above it is high enough up.
Shape the dough into one or two rounds and place in the skillet – I do like to put parchment on the bottom, but it is not necessary.
Brush the top with the melted butter and place in oven. Bake 45-60 minutes depending on the size of the pan. I like to brush again with butter when I check it at 45 minutes. The top should be a nice golden brown when done.
Remove from skillet, let cool a bit (if you can manage to wait) before slicing.
About the Author
Ruth Pepler and her daughter Grace run Dogwood Hills Guest Farm on 82 acres of Ozark hills with her husband, weekend warrior/reluctant farmer, Thomas. Their homestead was inspired through Grace’s 4-H projects — eventually leading to a dairy operation, and the additional land came with a guest house. Guests’ desire to participate in farm life inspired the Peplers to begin hosting farmstays where guests are welcomed to help feed cows and baby goats, milk cows, and tend to and feed chickens and ducks. Guests are invited to join the Peplers for hearty, farm-fresh meals and encouraged to adventure out on their own to explore the Ozarks, nearby Buffalo National River and local community. Dogwood Hills Guest Farm also hosts monthly, five-course gourmet dinners that are about as farm-to-table as you can get. Learn more in “Home Cooking With Kat & Friends” Thursday, June 4, at 7 p.m.
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