Irish Soda Bread

Bread Irish Soda Bread IIt’s the day to celebrate the Irish, right? So let’s enjoy some Irish Soda Bread, recipe compliments of Bobby Flay…the guy credited with creating everything filled with “flayvor”. This is a simple prep and packed with good-for-you fiber. It’s a dense bread, so I prefer mine toasted crispy and spread with the wonderful orange butter in this recipe, or a dab of cream cheese. The Don likes his drizzled with honey! Any way you like it, it packs a punch. May you go out and find lots of four leafed clovers today; and drink a Guinness (or two) while you’re out there!

Here’s What You’ll Need!
Irish Soda Bread:
3/4 cup golden raisins
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cake flour
1/2 cup semolina flour
1 1/2 t baking soda
1 1/2 t cream of tartar
1/8 t fine sea salt
2 Tbs sugar
3 Tbs very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 Tbs roasted, salted fennel seeds or regular fennel seeds
2 t finely grated orange zest
1 1/2 cups very cold buttermilk
2 Tbs butter, melted

Buttermilk-Orange Butter:
1/2 cup cold buttermilk
2 t finely grated orange zest
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
Pinch sea salt

And Here’s How You Do It!
Place the raisins in a bowl and cover with hot water.
Set aside until softened, about 30 minutes.
Drain and pat dry.
Preheat the oven to 375°.
In large bowl, sift together all-purpose flour, cake flour, semolina flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt.
Stir in sugar.
Cut the 3 Tbs butter into the flour until it resembles a coarse meal.
Stir in fennel seeds and raisins.
In a small bowl, stir orange zest into the buttermilk.
Add buttermilk/zest mixture to flour mixture.
Stir with a fork just until a dough comes together.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead briefly, until the loose flour is just moistened.
The dough will look shaggy and uneven.
Form the dough into a 6-inch round and place in a 10-inch skillet.
Using a sharp knife, score a deep cross into the top of the loaf.
Bake until nicely browned and a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes.
Remove from oven and brush with the 2 Tbs melted butter.
Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

While the bread bakes, make the buttermilk-orange butter:
Whisk together buttermilk and orange zest in a small bowl.
Put butter and salt in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
Beat until smooth.
Slowly pour in buttermilk mixture and continue beating until just incorporated.
Spread into a ramekin.
Cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours to allow the flavors to meld.
Serve slices of warm or toasted soda bread with the orange butter.

Bread Irish Soda Bread II

Raw Dough in the Skillet, Marked with a Cross

Bread Irish Soda Bread III

Ahhh…The Finished Product!

PS…a little history lesson here; just keeping us sharp!
What About The Cross On Top?
Before baking, a cross is traditionally cut on the top of the soda bread loaf with a knife – often said to ward off the devil and to protect the household.
Legend and symbolism aside, there’s a practical reason for the cruciform shape to be cut into the top of the dough. Slashing the dough lets heat penetrate into the thickest part of the bread and allows the bread to stretch and expand as it rises.
Slashing a round loaf with a cruciform shape ends up dividing the bread into quadrants that can be easily broken apart (the breaking of the bread). But, since Ireland is a Catholic country, the symbolism of the cross can also be interpreted as blessing (crossing) the bread and giving thanks.                                                From EatOutEatWell.com

Apple, Brie, and Thyme Crostini

It’s a dance party on a piece of bread folks! It’s totally over the fence, sorta like Big Papi and his famous home runs.  And it’s simple. Listen. This is not a maybe; this is a MUST! From one of my new and all time favorites, The Love and Lemons Cookbook by Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Matthews. Here’s what you need:

8 slices Ciabatta bread
8 slices Brie
1 Honey Crisp apple
Olive oil, for drizzling
Sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper
Fresh thyme leaves, removed from sprigs
Honey, for drizzling (I use Matt and Judy’s local honey)

apple-brie-thyme-crostini

Preheat oven to 350°.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place ciabatta slices on baking sheet.
Top each with slice of brie, then 2 apple slices, and a drizzle of olive oil.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bake 8 – 9 minutes until cheese melts and bread is toasted.
Remove from oven.
Top with thyme.
Drizzle with honey.

And then it turns out like this!

The combination of sweet, savory and “herby” is undeniably fantastic! Email me if you want to try Matt and Judy’s Beelicious Honey. I’ll hook you up with some. And they will ship as well. They make it right here in Pitt County from local bees. Yep. That’s right.

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