Easy Homemade Irish Soda Bread

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Many people wish they could bake delicious homemade bread, but they think that the process is too cumbersome or that only professional bakers are able to produce a satisfactory loaf of bread. Fortunately, this is certainly not the case.

At Italian Home Kitchen, we’ve got the perfect recipe to get your started. A delicious loaf of Irish Soda Bread is not only easy to make, but it requires only the simplest of tools and ingredients. These are things almost everyone already has on hand.

This recipe leans more towards a traditional Irish Soda Bread, rather than the more Americanized and sweeter version that many people have become accustomed to eating. Real Irish Soda Bread is made with Irish wholemeal flour, similar to a coarse ground whole wheat flour that is used in many American kitchens.

To help lighten this bread and bring added flavor, we’ve added some delicious currants as well as bread flour, sugar, egg and butter. The list of ingredients is as follows:

2-1/2 c Irish wholemeal or 100% whole wheat flour
1-1/4 cups unbleached bread flour
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
2/3 cups raisins or currants
4 Tbsp cold butter, cut into 8 pieces
1-1/3 cups buttermilk
1 egg

To Make the Bread

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In a mixing bowl, combine the flours, sugar, baking soda, salt and the raisins or currants. Cut in the butter using a pastry fork or mixer, until mixture is coarse and there are no big chunks remaining.

In another bowl, whisk the buttermilk and egg together. Add to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. The dough should be stiff, but if it is too crumbly to come together, another 1 or 2 tablespoons of buttermilk can be stirred in.

Knead dough a few times just to make sure it holds together, then form it into a ball. Flatten slightly and place in an 8″ or 9″ round cake pan that is lightly greased. Cut a deep cross, about ½ inch deep across the top of the bread. Cut should extend all the way to the edges of the loaf.

Bake in a 400 degree F, preheated oven, for approximately 45 to 55 minutes. A cake tester should come out clean when inserted into the center of the bread and the bread should be golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately brush with melted butter, if desired.

Bread yields approximately 12 servings.

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Warming Tortillas And Keeping Them That Way

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As Mexican foods become more popular, so do dealing with some of the more common ingredients. Nothing is more basic than the tortilla, and nothing beats a warm tortilla; the combination of its smell and touch is arguably one of the best, most comfortable, of any simple food. Warming tortillas up and keeping them that way is simplicity itself.

The tortilla itself is simply corn or wheat flour mixed in with a little water and salt, and then flattened, preferably in a tortilla press. The tortilla is then cooked in a pan or on a flat grill, taking just a few seconds to warm up and cook the tortilla. It does not need oil or butter, and in fact it doesn’t add anything to the flavor and just makes it harder to hold. If it is done right the tortilla maintains its flexibility, allowing it to be folded into a burrito. Corn tortillas can also be deep-fried for tostadas or sliced into chips.

However, the tortilla does not need to be eaten right then. As a cold tortilla is not flexible enough for most uses, it helps to warm them up, and there are three basic ways to do so. If there are a number of them to warm up, you can put them on a cookie sheet and slide that into an oven for a few minutes. If you only need to warm a few up, you can use a pan or flat grill to warm them up and possibly given them a little golden brown crunch. You can also use a microwave for a stack of up to six at a time, at about ten seconds per tortilla, with a minimum time of twenty seconds, with no worry of burning of them.

Keeping them warm is even easier. If you lack a tortilla warmer, all you need is a warm, dry towel: Put the tortillas on one side and then cover with the other half, folding over the edges for a little extra warmth. However, do not use an oven as a warmer; even at a low temperature it is likely to burn if not used quickly. This should help you enjoy the smell and warm comfort of the tortilla whenever you want, quickly and with no fuss.

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