Irish Soda Bread with a Citrus Twist
Soda bread – or Irish soda bread – is an easy quickbread that uses baking soda as a leavening agent. What makes it different from other quickbreads is that soda bread dough is very firm and the bread is generally baked in a free-form loaf, much like yeasted breads are. The bread is very easy to make, so you can have a fresh loaf baked and ready to eat in only a few minutes, and it is easy to put your own spin on the basic recipe by adding other flavorful ingredients. A plain soda bread might contain caraway seeds or raisins. This is a citrusy twist on the basic recipe, with a light lemon or orange flavor and subtle sweetness to it.
Lemon and buttermilk is a combination that I often use in springtime baking, both in cakes and bars, and that same combination makes this loaf seem perfect for a springtime brunch.
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for currants
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup raisins (1/2 cup golden and 1/2 cup dark - optional)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the Olive Oil and mix on low speed until it is mixed into the flour.
With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk and egg. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the currants or raisins with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.
Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.
Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.