It is now time for me to confess my absolute love and admiration for Ina Garten (a.k.a The Barefoot Contessa). There's just something about her that is so soothing and pleasant to watch, it's down right memorizing! Not to mention that her and Jeffery (her husband) are probably the cutest couple in existence. Sometimes when I watch her show I pretend that we're hosting a dinner party together and I am in charge of the flower arrangements and dessert. She is so calm in the kitchen and I think that tone somehow transfers over when you use one of her recipes. I decided on this particular one because it contains orange zest! I am a huge fan of incorporating a little citrus pick-me-up whenever I can and this sounded like the perfect opportunity to do so!
This bread is light, moist, and has the texture of a light pound cake. Be warned that this is a VERY wet dough, I panicked when I tried to kneed it and I ended up with a big sticky doughy mess on my figures...I thought oh great, I might as well throw it away and start over! But then I asked myself (which I often do) W.W.I.D? So I floured up my hands and threw that sucker in a round baking pan and by golly, that bread came out amazing!
Ina Garten's Irish Soda Bread
(yields 1 loaf)
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for currants (if using)
4 tablespoons sugar (I put 5 because I like a more sweet soda bread)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken*
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 cup dried currants (optional)
*If you don't have buttermilk just add 1 TBS of lemon juice to every 1 cup of milk you use.
1.Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly Grease a round dutch oven or you may use a sheet pan.
2.Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.
3.With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the currants with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be VERY wet...like almost unmanageably wet.
4.Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf (if you can't achieve a round loaf like me, simply plop it into a round baking dish). Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.
Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.