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IRISH SODA FRUIT BREAD

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English Rose View Drop Down
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Joined: 23 April 2018
Location: England
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    Posted: 02 May 2018 at 08:09

Hi everyone.  I don’t know whether any of you ever think back to your childhood and remember a memory of a food that you absolutely loved. No doubt, just like me, you may never have appreciated how something so delicious could just conjure itself onto the plate in front of you. It was just always there, after school, when seven hungry kids would barrel in, expecting a snack before dad got in from work and we could sit down to dinner.


Mum being Irish, was a wonderful baker. She made all her own Soda Bread of course, which we and our many school friends absolutely loved. But her jewel in the crown was her Irish Fruit Soda Loaf.  There would be a huge platter with the Fruit Soda Loaf cut into 7 long lengths, one big sllce for each of us.. A dish of KerryGold butter would always be next to it, along with a jar of her homemade Strawberry Jam and several knives for buttering it.


I have to smile when I remember the boys buttering those lovely slices. The butter was put on so thick it left teeth marks after every hungry bite.


This recipe thank goodness,I know off by heart. I used to make it for my own Gorillas. Sadly, there is only myself and he who must obey in the household now and although he can eat for England and not gain an ounce, This Soda Fruit Bread would be too tempting for this lady with Summer coming up and watching my weight.


So,I would like to share the recipe with you if I may, If you do decide to make it, I hope you enjoy it. As I said above, I never learned how Mum made it, I was too busy eating it, so over the years I have followed the recipe of an Irish Chef I took from a magazine that I didn’t even take his name, according to my dog-eared recipe sheet) so my apologies to the original author of this wonderful recipe.  I did try other authors recipes, but this tried and tested one was the only one that had that wonderful identical taste to Mum’s Irish Soda Fruit Loaf. (this toasted for breakfast? You will never want anything else ever again!)


Here we go then………


Preheat your oven to 375F / 190C / 170 Fan / Gas 5.



INGREDIENTS       (This makes 2 x Irish Soda Fruit Breads)


3.¼ cups All Purpose Flour

½ cup Whole-Wheat Flour

¼ cup quick cooking Oatmeal (or regular rolled Oats)

1.¼ teaspoons Baking Soda (make sure it’s fresh and not near sell-by date)

1 teaspoon Baking Powder   (make sure it’s fresh and not near sell-by date)

1.½ teaspoons Salt

4 tablespoons very cold Butter, small cubes (I personally shred it on my grater)

2 or 3 tablespoons Honey

1.¾ cups Buttermilk (or make your own Buttermilk by adding one/two tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup of milk, stir to combine) I always substitute this for Buttermilk, which I never bother buying when I can make same up with the above ingredients myself.

1 large Egg

2 teaspoons Orange or Tangerine Zest

1 cup dried Currants

⅓ cup of Golden Raisins or ….1.⅓ cups of either if you don’t like one of the fruits)


METHOD


First, put the all purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, oats, salt, baking soda and baking powder into a mixing bowl.Whisk them together thoroughly to combine.


Next you need to add the very cold butter cubed or grated, into the flour mixture, I use my fingers to mix it together, but you can use a fork or pastry cutter if you prefer.  It does get what I call “gunky” but after about 5 minutes of rubbing it together, it results in the texture I want, which is a meal like texture with no trace of the butter.


In a separate bowl, crack in the egg, add the honey, followed by the orange (or tangerine) zest.Then add the buttermilk. Whisk thoroughly to combine.


Now make a well in the centre of your flour mix and pour the whole lot of wet liquid into the centre. After this, empty all the currants and/or raisins into the centre as well.


With a wooden spoon, start mixing the flour and liquid together starting in the centre and working your way to the edges of the bowl to make a really sticky, gunky dough. (Don’t worry, this is how it is meant to be).


Now, on a very lightly floured work surface, also a small amount of the flour on your hands and on the sticky dough (too much flour and the tops of your soda fruit loaves will make the soda fruit loaf dry) just use enough to very gently and tenderly shape the dough ball into the shape of a round loaf (as picture). Never over knead it but don’t be afraid to add a little flour each time as you gently shape it, turn it over, pat it gently into the shape. As I said, you will need a little flour in order to do this because the dough ball will be sticky.


Once you have arrived at the shape you need, (a deep, round, slightly patted down loaf shape), cut the dough loaf  in half (you are making two soda fruit breads) and again, just to get any cracks or crevices out, and treat the sticky parts where you have just cut it in half,  treat it exactly as you did above, patting each half around very gently, using a little flour to cover any sticky parts, and gently shaping it into two dough ball before gently patting it down into  two deep round soda fruit loaves..


Now, place the fruit soda breads onto a baking paper lined oven pan. Next, and most importantly, cut a cross into the top of each loaf with a large serrated knife. (you may have to wipe your knife after each cut). Make sure when you cut the cross, each gash is about ½ inch deep across the tops of each soda loaf. ( to let the angels in, and keep the devil out) as my mum used to say).


IMPORTANT: Please do not place into the oven yet. You now need to let the loaves stand for at least 15 minutes before placing into the oven.


Once in the oven, bake for 45 minutes or until you can see that your Irish Fruit Soda Bread is beautifully brown and baked to perfection.


Bring out of the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Now I know it is tempting to cut a slice at this stage, but please don’t be tempted. If you cut it whilst it is still hot, moisture will escape and it is at risk of drying out too quickly. Leave for at least 30 minutes. THEN, cut yourself a lovely slice, smother it in butter and strawberry jam, toast it if you want. As I said, it is great for breakfast.


Irish Fruit Soda breads will last for 2 to 3 days. (much less in this house!) LOL, but it really freezes well once cooled completely. Wrap it in clingfilm (saran) followed by aluminium foil before freezing and it will stay perfect for 2 months.


Enjoy!

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