Whenever I study past 11 pm, I just have this insatiable cravings for carbs, specifically for breads. I often try to be a strong ambassador of health by attempting to eat carrots, but let’s just admit that there are times we just have to be naughty. This time, my choice of pleasure island was Irish soda bread with sweet bursts of golden raisins and licorice-y caraway seeds. I was never patient and disciplined, and naturally, baking was never my forte. But, I do usher my inner Barefoot Contessa and bake some goodies, in dire need of some sugar rush.
I found this recipe in Epicurious cook book, and was instantly moved by the story.
“This recipe comes from the mother of a September 11 victim; it was a favorite of her son, a chef for Cantor Fitzgerald, and will no doubt be a favorite of yours. When originally submitting it to Bon Appetit, Patrice Bedrosian encouraged readers “to enjoy this delicious and comforting Irish bread, to smile, and to remember the love between a mother and son”.
The recipe was a pleasure to make, and rewarding every step of the way – nibbling the raisins, pecking on the sugar granules, and licking the batter-coated spatulas. As the bread slowly bakes, it perfumes our whole apartment with sugary-buttery smell. My roommate, Tony, came back just before the bread finished baking (lucky bastard). Then, we squeezed out as much patience as we could as the bread cools down. We probably looked like one of those vultures from Jungle Book, who persistently followed Mowgli.
By the time the bread cools down, it was already 1 am. But, we both know that we were not waiting it for breakfast. I just grab a stick of butter and jam from the fridge, slather it on the warm bread, and groaned satisfactorily. The bread was a perfect contrast of crusty outside with moist and flaky inside. I also became an instant fan of how combination of raisins and caraway seeds create sweet yet almost herbal bite. Life was good and balanced on that night.
5 cups of all-purpose flour
1 cup of sugar
1 tabespoon of baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cute into cubes, at room temperature
2 ½ cup of raisins
3 tablespoons of caraway seeds
2 ½ cup of buttermilk
(if you don’t have butter milk, you can make your own by adding one teaspoon of lime juice to a cup of full fat milk)
1 large eggs
- Preheat the oven to 350 degree.
- Generously butter your Dutch oven.
- Combine, by whisking, the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. The final dough will be sticky, so as a paranoid individual, I combined them in a non-stick pan.
- Add the utter, using your fingertip pads, rub in until you get crumbly dough bits.
- Whisk the buttermilk and egg in a bowl to blend.
- Plunge the mixture into the dough, and stir until incorporated. If the dough turns out very sticky, don’t be alarmed.
- Transfer the dough to the pre-pared skillet, and try to smooth the top and form a mini-dome in the center.
- Bake until the bread is cooked through and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (usually about 1 hour 15 minutes).
- Cool the bread in the skillet for about 10 minutes.
- Cool completely on the rack. (Well, I ran out of patience and skipped that step, but you should cool it down).