I'm sorry for being a slacker and not posting a recipe for over a month! In my defense, SO MANY THINGS have happened in the past month, it's kind of crazy.
My trusty, 8 year old macbook pro died. Like, it was working fine...and then 2 hours later it wouldn't turn on. Which means, because I'm a bad blogger/computer owner and habitually forget how important it is to back up my shit, all of the photos from yet-to-be-posted recipes are temporarily gone. I have to take my old laptop and an external hard drive to a computer genius to get everything transferred over. The Apple store won't do it, because my laptop was so old they basically said "if we break it, we can't fix it." It's already broken!! Rude.
I did end up getting a nice, shiny new laptop (yay exciting, boo expensive) but, basically, until I'm able to get the data off my old hard drive, I'm stuck trying to play catch up with baking/photographing/posting. It's a little bit of a bummer, but we'll make it work.
Some other big things have happened in the past month, too, that have taken some time away from blogging: we bought (or are in the process of buying) a condo, I baked a fancy-ish cake for a really cool baby's 1st birthday, I got to go to the Food Blog Forum conference in Orlando, and Brandon and I got engaged!
See? Lots of big stuff. I'll recap things a little at a time, but for now, let's talk about Irish Soda Bread. Because, you know, St. Patrick's Day is coming, and this is probably the easiest possible "Irish" recipe you can make.
Wait, pause...have I ever talked about my love-hate relationship with St. Patrick's Day? I absolutely detest the holiday as a Chicagoan. People behave like complete asshats in this city around St. Patrick's Day, and the whole city is basically a nightmare. There are out of control drunk people all over the place, vomit all over the sidewalks, and people leave trash everywhere. It's gross, and I hate it. Though there's definitely some entertainment to be had the morning after the holiday -- take a walk around any Chicago neighborhood and you'll see walks-of-shame happening en masse. Hilarious.
On the other hand, I can't totally hate the holiday. My parents actually met at a St. Patrick's Day party! I have this super 80's-y picture of my dad at that party sporting a plastic shamrock pipe and ridiculous glasses. Somehow it feels particularly significant this year, as this is my first full year without either parent around (though I still have my incomparably awesome stepdad around to keep me entertained. He refers to a piece of furniture in the house as "The Costanza"...I think he actually meant credenza? Who knows.) And also, St. Patrick's Day is one of our cat's birthdays! He's turning 6 or 7 this year. Old fart.
Anyway, while it might be called Irish Soda Bread, a lot of cultures/cuisines have their own variety of this bread. Essentially, it's just quick bread made with buttermilk and leavened with baking soda. That's all. It's dense and toothy, and if you make it in a cast iron skillet like you're supposed to, it gets a wonderfully crispy crust. It takes maybe 20 minutes to throw together, and about 45 minutes to bake. It's like a giant, slightly-savory-but-not-really scone. I know that sounds pretty unexciting, but it's a good candidate for a lot of different things: dipping in soup, butter and jam, nutella, a breakfast sandwich...it can handle pretty much any accoutrements.
Irish Soda Bread
recipe from America's Test Kitchen
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
2 TB sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/2 tsp table salt
2 TB softened, unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Whisk flours, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt in a large bowl.
- Add the softened butter and rub it into the flour using your fingers, until completely incorporated.
- Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, and add 1 1/2 cups buttermilk. Work the buttermilk into the flour using a fork or spatula until the dough comes together in large clumps and there's no dry flour on the bottom of the bowl. If needed, you can add additional buttermilk one tablespoon at a time until all of the loose flour is moistened.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and pat into a 6-inch round. Dough will be scrappy.
- Place dough round into a 12-inch cast iron skillet.
- Score a deep cross in the top of the dough - about 5 inches long and 3/4 inch deep.
- Bake until nicely browned and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40-50 minutes.
- Remove from oven, and brush with 1 TB melted butter if desired. Cool for at least half an hour before serving.