White Soda Bread with Onion and Caraway
4 cups cake flour
1/2 tablespoon caraway seeds (I find that most American recipes for "Irish" Soda Bread call for much more caraway than I care for)
1 teaspoon baking-soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 onion, thinly sliced and lightly caramelized in 2 tablespoons of lard/butter.
2 cups (about) buttermilk
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Lightly flour baking sheet.
Mix flour, caraway seeds, if using, baking soda and salt in large bowl.
Stir the onions into 1½ cups buttermilk and stir this mixture into the flour to form moist clumps. Add up to ½ cup more buttermilk if necessary. [The proportion of liquid to dry ingredients is crucial, as different flours have different absorption limits. The dough should not be too moist, to hold its shape, but too dry becomes quite unpalatable once baked].
Gather dough into ball.
Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead just until dough holds together, about 1 minute. [The true secret of Irish soda bread, which I found in a Bon Appetit Special on Ireland years ago, is the age-old instruction that between mixing and baking the bread no more than 3 minutes should transpire].
Shape dough into 6-inch-diameter by 2-inch-high round. [I like quite a roughly shaped ball to make the crust more interesting].
Place on prepared baking sheet.
Cut 1-inch-deep X across top of bread, extending almost to edges.
Bake until bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on bottom, about 35 - 45 minutes. [Do not overbake].
Transfer bread to rack and cool completely.
Pairs Well With
Bon Appétit May 1996 [I wouldn’t be surprised if this were the issue in which I originally found the recipe!]
This recipe is based on a plain white soda bread recipe I found at epicurious.com.
Sometimes I add ½ cup raisins to the salty onion bread, which goes especially well with butter and sharp Cheddar cheese.
The onion could also be replaced with 1 cup of raisins, 1 – 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of sugar for a sweeter bread.