Today, I am actively avoiding the madness of Boston on St. Patrick’s day weekend by celebrating in my own way- by baking, of course!
And what’s more appropriate to celebrate the holiday than Irish soda bread? … with a twist (adapted from smitten kitchen). This version contains half whole wheat flour, as well as raisins, orange zest, and caraway seeds (traditional Irish soda breads don’t contain any of that “fun” stuff). The result is a hearty, savory scone with a little sweetness, perfect with a morning cup of coffee or tea.
Confession time: until I made these, I thought that Irish soda bread contained soda. Soda as in: tonic water, beer, or some other fizzy beverage. Turns out, it’s just the baking soda from whence it gets its name. There are some recipes out there that use heavy stout beers (like Guinness) to make it, but it’s not the norm.
Well, I’ll be darned. However, using Guinness to make bread sounds pretty amazing and I will be trying this at some point, for sure.
Since it is a quick bread (no yeast), soda bread rises from the baking soda added to it. It’s super hearty and delicious warm from the oven with a generous helping of salted butter spread over it. However, it’s denser and more crumbly than other breads, and often goes stale more quickly (which means you should eat it as soon as possible, or store in the freezer until you are ready to eat it).
Most soda bread requires buttermilk. Instead, I used a mixture of plain yogurt and milk (mixed at a 1:1 ratio) as a substitute. Whenever I have purchased buttermilk for specific recipes in the past, a lot of it has ended up wasted- it goes bad before I can think of another recipe to make with it! For some reason, it’s very difficult to find a small amount of buttermilk to buy at the store. Someone should start selling it in those small school-lunch sized cartons. There you go, free business idea for you!
This recipe is versatile in terms of the desired size you want the bread. If you want to make a loaf, bake in a cast-iron skillet for 30-40 minutes. If you want large scones, divide the dough into eight pieces after forming. I made mini scones- I tore off small pieces of the dough and rolled each into a ball approximately two inches in diameter. Cut a cross into the top of the loaf or scones before baking to make it pretty!
Irish Soda Bread Scones (with raisins, orange, and caraway)
- 2 cups white whole wheat flour
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup natural cane sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons softened butter plus 2 tablespoons melted
- 1 1/4 cups buttermilk OR mix even parts plain yogurt and whole milk as a substitute
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
- zest of one orange plus 2 tablespoons juice
- Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium bowl (flours, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt).
- Cut butter up into small pieces and add to bowl. Use a pastry cutter to cut butter into flour mixture, until it resembles coarse crumbs.
- Add buttermilk, egg, raisins, caraway seeds, and orange zest to bowl.
- Mix together until the dough just comes together. It may be crumbly and in multiple pieces- this is OK.
- Turn dough out onto floured surface. Knead together until dough comes together in one consistent clump. It should be lumpy, not smooth (if kneaded for too long, bread will be tough).
- Divide dough into 8 pieces for large scones, or for small scones, into pieces that roll into a 2-inch ball.
- Roll each scone into a ball and place on parchment covered baking sheet. Cut a cross into the top of each one and brush with melted butter and orange juice mixed together.
- Bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown on top.
- These will keep in the freezer for up to 6 months. Microwave for about 20 seconds to thaw when you would like to have one!
- The provided nutrition information does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. Feel free to calculate it yourself using this calculator or by adding the recipe to Yummly.