Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s day everyone!  I thought I’d start this post with one of my favorite cakes, which seemed very fitting for today 😀

St. Patrick’s day will always hold a special place in my heart, since it was on this day 11 years ago that Jay & I had our unexpected first date over BBQ.  I like to believe the leprechauns acted more like cupid that day for us! 😀

Over the years, it’s become tradition that I make Irish Soda Bread to celebrate the day.  This year I decided to make a few extra to share with some family & Jay’s staff at the office … and I thought I would share my favorite recipe with all of you!

American-Style Soda Bread with Raisins & Caraway
Based largely on recipe published in Cooks Illustrated : March 1, 1997.

Yields 1 large loaf or 2 small loaves

15 oz all purpose flour
4 oz cake flour
1 3/4 oz sugar
1 1/2 t baking soda
1 1/2 t cream of tartar
1 1/2 t salt
2 oz (1/2 stick) softened butter (+1 oz [2 T] melted butter)
1 1/4 c buttermilk
1 large egg
6 oz (1 cup) raisins [or mix of raisins & currants] – soaked briefly in water while assembling remainder of ingredients
1 T caraway seeds

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 400°F. Whisk flours, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, & salt in large bowl. Work softened butter into dry ingredients with fingertips until texture resembles coarse crumbs.

2. Whisk buttermilk with egg.  Drain raisins.  Add egg mixture, raisins & caraway seeds to dry mixture and stir with a fork just until dough begins to come together. Turn out onto flour-coated work surface; knead until dough just becomes cohesive and bumpy.

3. Pat dough into 1 round about 6 inches in diameter and 2 inches high (or 2 rounds about 3 1/2 inches in diameter); place on parchment-lined baking sheet.  Place the loaf on a cookie sheet and cut a cross shape into the top.

4. Bake until golden brown and a skewer inserted into center of loaf comes out clean or internal temperature reaches 170 degrees, 40 to 45 minutes, covering bread with aluminum foil if it is browning too much. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter; cool to room temperature, 30 to 40 minutes.

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