Monday, March 17, 2014

St. Patty's Day Soda Bread Rolls

St. Patrick’s day is big in the Boston area because of the large Irish population here. There’s a huge (drunken) parade with leprechauns dancing in the street and the bars are open all day as if it’s…. well as if it’s St. Patty’s day.
Growing up my mother would (sometimes) tint our milk green (ewww, I know) and I remember her making corned beef and cabbage a couple of times. We always made sure we wore something green that day (something about bad luck?). 
Even though I don’t have any Irish heritage it’s fun to partake in the celebration and these rolls are a perfect way to have a taste of Ireland. The great thing about Irish Soda Bread is the absence of yeast,
just baking soda, so they can be made quickly and eaten even faster. The texture of the rolls are similar to a scone and they're wonderful with soft, salted butter.

Irish Soda Bread Rolls
Recipe slightly adapted from here and here
Makes about 20-24 rolls

Recipe Notes:
- If you don’t have an extra-large egg then just crack 2 large eggs in a bowl, whisk slightly, and only put about ¾’s of the mixed eggs in (basically 1 ½ large eggs).
- Currants, or raisins, are typically in Irish soda bread to keep the bread moist but they’re not a requirement. I only put ¼ cup of currants in mine because I’m not crazy about them. Also, 1 tsp. of orange zest is in Ina Garten’s recipe but I left it out because I was serving the rolls with soup and I didn’t want the orange flavor to clash.  

4 Cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for currants
4 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 ½ tsp. salt
4 Tbs. (½ stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch dice
1 ¾ Cup cold buttermilk, shaken
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
½ to 1 Cup of currants (or raisins)

1. Preheat the oven to 350º F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.
3. With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk and egg together. With the mixer on low speed slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. If using the currants, combine the currants with ½ to 1 Tbs. of flour and mix into the dough. The dough will be very wet.
4. On a well-floured surface, turn the dough out and knead it a few times. Then pat the dough into a large, thick round and cut into equal pieces (around 20-24). With floured hands roll each piece into a ball and place on the baking sheet in rows of 4. Make sure each dough ball is touching the ones around it. With the tip of a paring knife, cut a ¼ inch-deep X in each dough ball. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until lightly browned, rotating the pan halfway through cooking. Pull apart the rolls and serve warm with salted butter.