Baker Sweet Maker - Shirl Gard
Irish Soda Bread: 3 Variations
Author: Shirl Gard
This is an Irish-American version of Soda Bread. Just adding a small amount of butter and a smidge of sugar does a lot for texture and flavor. My preferred blend of flours for the soft wheat flour needed for Soda Bread is 50% unbleached all-purpose flour and 50% pastry flour. As an alternative, you can use 75% unbleached all-purpose and 25% cake flour or 100% bleached all-purpose flour. My favorite version of Irish Soda Bread is "Spotted Puppies", which are small individual scone-like breads. I give three variations here: one for the "Puppies"(with dark raisins), as well as a large round loaf version (with caraway seeds and golden raisins) and a version for two small round loaves (using part whole wheat flour and dark raisins).

YIELD: 8 SMALL INDIVIDUAL SODA BREADS OR 1 LARGE ROUND LOAF OR 2 SMALL ROUND LOAVES
INGREDIENTS
  • DRY INGREDIENTS:
  • 225 grams unbleached all-purpose flour (1½ cups + 2 T)
  • 225 grams pastry flour (1½ cups + 2 T)
  • 50 grams sugar (1/4 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds (optional)
  • 1½ teaspoons fine sea salt
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 60 grams unsalted butter, cold and cut in small ½" cubes (4 T - ½ stick)
  • LIQUID:
  • 400 grams buttermilk (1⅔ cups)
  • RAISINS:
  • 120 grams dark or golden raisins (3/4 cup) (optional)
  • - Plump the raisins in a light sugar syrup: Bring ½ cup water and 2 T sugar to a boil and pour over raisins. Cover and let steep 30 minutes. Drain and pat dry.
  • - Or: Microwave water, sugar, and raisins for 1 minute on high. Cover and let steep 30 minutes. Drain and pat dry.
  • 1080 grams = Total 38 oz (2# 6 oz)
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 425° F. For "puppies", line one half-sheet pan with parchment paper and sprinkle lightly with flour. For loaves, line one quarter-sheet pan with parchment paper and sprinkle lightly with flour; double-pan for loaves.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Whisk well to mix. Rub in the butter until mixture is like crumbs. Pour the buttermilk on top of the dry ingredients, and fold gently with a rubber spatula until the flour is half-absorbed. Scatter the raisins over the top of the dough and finish folding in. Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured work surface.
  3. VARIATION #1: FOR SMALL INDIVIDUAL BREADS - "SPOTTED PUPPIES" WITH DARK RAISINS Omit optional caraway seeds and use dark raisins.
  4. DIVIDE AND SCALE the dough into 8 pieces - 135 grams (4¾ oz) each. With floured hands, fold each piece in half and then in half again; round up each piece into a smooth tight ball. Place on prepared half-sheet pan (3-2-3) and pat gently to 3" rounds. Dust the tops lightly with flour,using a small sieve. With a sharp serrated paring knife, cut a cross (+) on the top of each. Bake immediately.
  5. BAKE @ 425°F for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan half way through baking, until golden brown. If using a probe thermometer, insert after 15 minutes: the internal temperature should register 209°F. Cool on a rack.
  6. VARIATION #2: ONE LARGE "SEEDY BREAD" LOAF WITH GOLDEN RAISINS (OR: "SPOTTED DOG" WITH CARAWAY SEEDS) Add the optional caraway seeds and use golden raisins.
  7. FOR ONE LARGE ROUND LOAF: The finished dough will weigh about 1100g (2# 6 oz). Pat the dough into a round about 1" thick. Fold the dough in half and then in half again. Round up and form the dough into a smooth tight ball. Place on prepared quarter-sheet pan and flatten slightly to 6½" round. Dust the top very lightly with flour, using a small sieve. With a sharp serrated paring knife, cut a cross (+) about 5 inches long and ½ inch deep into the top of each loaf. Bake immediately.
  8. BAKE @ 425°F for 15 minutes. Turn oven down to 375°F and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan and turn the oven down to 325°F to finish baking, another 25 - 30 minutes until golden brown and the internal temperature registers 209°F. Total baking time 50 - 55 minutes. If at any time, the bread looks too dark place a foil tent over the top to prevent further browning. if using a probe thermometer, insert it after 45 minutes of baking when the crust is fully formed.
  9. Cool on a rack.
  10. VARIATION #3: TWO "BROWN SODA BREAD" LOAVES WITH DARK RAISINS
  11. For flour, use 270 grams pastry flour (2 cups) and 180 grams whole wheat flour (1¼ cups). This is a 60% / 40% blend. Omit optional caraway seeds and use dark raisins.
  12. FOR TWO SMALL ROUND LOAVES: DIVIDE AND SCALE the dough into two 560 gram (1# 3 oz) loaves. Proceed as above for one loaf, except the dough rounds should be shaped to about 4½" in diameter. Cut the cross (+) on top 3" long and ¼" deep.
  13. BAKE @ 425°F for 15 minutes. Turn oven down to 375°F for 10 minutes. Rotate pan and insert probe thermometer. Turn oven down to 325°F to finish baking, another 20 minutes. Total baking time is about 45 minutes. Internal temperature = 209°F.
  14. Cool on a rack.
Recipe Ancestry Notes:
The proportions in this recipe were adapted from the "Seedy Bread" variation of Irish Soda Bread in Nick Malgieri's How to Bake (1995). The concept of "Spotted Puppies" and "Spotted Dog" come from The Ballymaloe Cooking School Cookbook by Darina Allen (2002).
Recipe by ShirlGard at https://shirlgard.com/irish-soda-bread-3-variations/