Every year for St. Patrick's Day I make Irish Soda Bread. This is the only time of the year that I make it, and I'm not quite sure why because it is good (very good), and people love it. I have my own special recipe that gives mine a unique taste; it came about due to an error I made the first time I baked it. The original recipe calls for caraway seeds, as do pretty much all soda bread recipes. Honestly, I thought I had my hand on the caraway seed jar, but as it turned out, I didn't, and ended up using anise seed instead. What a wonderful difference! People would taste it and wonder why theirs wasn't as good. Another boost that I give my version is to soak the raisins in Irish whiskey to plump them up and inject a little flavor. Easy, delicious, and makes excellent toast the morning after.
Irish Whiskey Soda Bread
4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
½ tablespoon anise seeds
2/3 cup raisins
2 tablespoons Irish whiskey
1-3/4 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Put raisins in a shallow bowl and cover with whiskey; set aside.
Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat©.
Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Stir in sugar, anise seeds, and whiskey/raisin mixture. Add buttermilk and stir with a wooden spoon just until the dough is moist, but still lumpy.
Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface and gently knead 8 times to form a soft dough. Cut dough into two equal halves and form into balls. Pat each ball into a domed 6-inch round on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Cut a ½” deep “X” on top of each loaf and brush with melted butter.
Bake until golden brown, 35-40 minutes. Remove to rack to cool completely.
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