Let’s just cut to the chase here. I made Irish soda bread and it was just as good (dare I say better?) than my Mother-in-Law’s. There, I said it! For years I have swooned over her Irish soda bread and resolved that I could never make anything to compare. But this girl was destined for a win and the luck of the Irish was with me.
I took my own advice and read the recipe before removing even just one measuring cup from the drawer. Boy do I love these bread recipes – four ingredients with optional raisins. I was eager to conquer this challenge and take my soda bread to the family St. Patrick’s Day gathering.
The recipe in Baking With Julia is a traditional soda bread. Nothing fancy, no eggs, no sifting – just flour, salt, baking soda and buttermilk. I blended the dry ingredients together with a fork as directed. Then, reading carefully along, I added the buttermilk and stirred until the dough came together and then folded in a cup of raisins. Easy enough.
The next step was to knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for just about a minute. The recipe says that the dough will be “soft and malleable…” but I did not expect a sticky, gooey mess. I even looked malleable up in the dictionary and it means capable of being shaped or formed. Um, no. It felt like I had enough dough between my fingers to make another soda bread!
Attempting to tame the dough as best I could, I plopped it on the prepared baking sheet and tried to cut a crisscross as directed. There was no making any kind of crisscross in this dough. It just popped right back into it’s sticky form.
I took the bread out of the oven about 6 minutes before it was set to be done. It looked golden brown and I wanted to err on the side of caution. What emerged was a beautiful round of Irish soda bread despite my sticky hands and failed crisscross. It tasted great and had a perfectly balanced texture – not too soft and not too dense. And best of all, it tasted just as good as my Irish Mother-in-Law’s.