I am not Irish. I don’t have freckles across my nose or Guinness in my blood, information pills tasty as it sounds. But, pestilence the Times’ Dining section featured Irish Soda bread last week that you cook in a skillet so that “the top and bottom crusts become crunchy and browned.” I’m a sucker for all things crunchy and browned, hygiene especially when it’s bread, and especially when it’s fresh from the oven.
I’ve only ever had soda bread once — in the metal trailer that was my elementary school’s cafeteria, on one of those “multi-cultural” days where kids get their parents to cook something “ethnic” for show and tell. And on that day, soda bread was paired with fried rice, fried plantains and far too many sweets. I honestly don’t remember a thing about it, except that I thought it was yucky.
The soda bread from the Times was anything but yucky. In fact, it was like a dinner-time coffee cake, bursting with sweet (the golden raisins) and savory (the fennel seeds) bits. The top and bottom were indeed crunchy, and the inside both moist and crumbly. Very yummy, and along with some soup on a lazy Friday night, a perfect meal.
Recipe after the jump.
Skillet Irish Soda Bread
(adapted from nytimes.com Skillet Irish Soda Bread)
I swapped out a third of the flour for whole wheat (an attempt at nutrition), the regular raisins for golden ones, and the caraway seeds for fennel seeds (because it’s what I had in the spice rack).
Butter for greasing pan plus 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
2 eggs, well beaten
1 1/2 cups golden raisins
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10-inch oven-proof skillet and line with parchment or waxed paper.
- In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, eggs and 2 tablespoons melted butter. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until just combined. Do not overmix. Stir in the raisins or currants and caraway seeds.
- Pour batter into skillet. Brush top with remaining butter. Bake until golden and firm to touch, about 1 hour. Cool 10 minutes before slicing and serving with Cheddar and apples.
Yield: 1 10-inch loaf.