Old-school soda bread could kill you in one of two ways: if employed as a blunt-object weapon (those things are rocks) or if it caused a choking fit, since the crumbs were typically so tough and dry. So this one is decidedly more new-age America. And I'm okay with that. Besides, if we're honest with ourselves, St. Patrick's Day is much more of an Irish-American holiday than it is an Irish one. Currants soaked in tea counters the sweetness of the bread. Serve it with Cheddar and honey, sorghum syrup, or beer jam.
Irish Soda Bread with Tea-Soaked Currants
Makes 2 round loaves
- 215 grams / 1 cup black tea, brewed strong and cooled
- 135 grams / 1 cup currants
- 420 grams/ 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 95 grams/ 1/2 cup sugar
- 15 grams /1/3 cup unprocessed wheat bran, toasted briefly (or 2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour)
- 8 grams/ 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 4 grams/ 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 grams/ 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 57 grams/ 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 240 grams/ 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
- 1 large egg
- 30 grams / 2 tablespoons salted butter, melted (optional)
Pour the tea over the currants and soak for 1 hour (or overnight). Drain well.
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Oil a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, wheat bran, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using your hands, blend the unsalted butter into the flour until it forms a crumbly mixture.
In a liquid measuring cup or small bowl, whisk the buttermilk and egg together. Gradually stir the buttermilk into the flour and butter and mix just until a tacky dough forms. Gently fold the currants into the dough.
Turn the dough onto a well-floured counter and knead gently. It is okay if the dough is a little tacky. Cut the dough in half (or keep whole for baking in a large round) and pat and roll each half into a round. Put the rounds on opposite ends of the prepared baking sheet or place a large round in the center. With a sharp knife, cut an X on the top of each round. Bake until the tops are golden brown, about 35 minutes for the smaller rounds and 50 minutes for a large round. Transfer to a cooling rack. While the bread is cooling, brush salted butter on top.