This week's TWD recipe was Irish Soda Bread, in honor of St. Patrick's Day. This is another food I'd never tried and may never have tried if not for this group. I've seen recipes and probably hundreds of blog posts for this bread (usually around this time of year) but I always thought it couldn't possibly be that good with so few ingredients and none of the special treatment that normal bread receives. This bread reminded me that the simplest things in life are often the best.
The recipe calls for a whopping 4 ingredients: all-purpose flour, baking soda, salt and buttermilk. That's it. You see why my expectations were so low? I added a little sugar to sweeten it up a bit. Of course I can never leave well enough alone, so I decided instead of making 1 large loaf I'd make 5 smaller loaves, and to complicate things even further, each would have a different type of raisin add-in.
I made one loaf with raisins soaked in amaretto, one with raisins soaked in spiced rum, another with raisins soaked in brandy and another with raisins soaked in orange juice. I made the last one with cherry-infused dried cranberries soaked in orange juice as well. (Mixing them in separately was not the best idea I've ever had... this was the stickiest dough I've ever worked with. Ever. I would advise anyone planning on making this bread to just stick with one type of add-in, your life will be so much easier.)
The bread had a surprisingly tender crumb for having no rising time whatsoever. One thing I will say that I didn't love about this bread was the smell; usually when I bake bread the whole house smells like heaven. The buttermilk (or something) in this bread made the whole house smell like feet...not heaven.
Overall though, the bread was delicious (my favorite raisin variations were the orange juice and amaretto ones. The O.J. raisins were really sweet; not particularly citrus-y, just sweeter. The amaretto-soaked raisins were sweet as well, but with just a hint of nuttiness). I'll definitely be making this again - it's so fast and easy there's really no reason not to.
The recipe for this bread can be found on this week's hosts' blogs, here and here, as well as in the Baking With Julia cookbook.