My inspiration to make Irish soda bread came from a visit to O’Rourke’s Diner early last Sunday morning (read: noon). O’Rourke’s was lauded by the Food Network show “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” for unique dishes such as duck hash and steamed cheeseburgers and by Wesleyan students for being a delicious alternative to standard Usdan brunch.
This particular O’Rourke’s experience was well worth the wait of the weekend morning rush, most notably because it was the first time that I ordered their Irish soda bread for myself instead of surreptitiously stealing crumbs from my friends’ plates.
There are many varieties of soda bread, although before Wesleyan I had never even heard of it. Intensive research has shown me that it is traditionally a quick and cheap type of bread to make, which, in a week packed with late-night essays, studying, and excessive caffeine, seemed like the way to go. This version of soda bread is vaguely sweet with a satisfyingly crunchy crust and a fluffy interior.
The other benefit to this recipe is that, as some of you may have heard, Spring Break is rapidly approaching, and you need to deplete as much of your food stores as possible before departing campus. I have made the mistake of leaving and forgetting food at Wesleyan for extended periods of time—namely, all of Winter Break—and the tragic result was some shriveled, mushy, black bananas and a lot of anxiety on my part before returning to campus. It’s surprising how many time-lapse YouTube videos there are of bananas rotting, and I have watched them all.
The point is, Irish soda bread baking is very simple compared to typical bread baking, will use up perishables like butter, milk, and eggs, and is made almost exclusively out of ingredients found in a moderately well-stocked pantry. The one exception to this is buttermilk, a substitute for which can be made by adding a tablespoon of lemon juice to slightly less than a cup of milk and letting it sit for several minutes.
Irish Soda Bread
Adapted from allrecipes.com
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
3 cups raisins
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, raisins, and cinnamon in one bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, eggs, sour cream, and melted butter.
3. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until the flour is moist. Knead the dough lightly, 10 to 12 times.
4. Place and pat down the dough onto a creased nine-inch pan, and cut a four-inch slit into the top.
5. Bake for 55 minutes and then let cool. Cut and serve warm, either with breakfast or with ice cream—those don’t have to be mutually exclusive.