Okay this is another one of those brilliant recipes that always turns out and always impresses. The yummy soad bread with just a hint of chocolate and orange is amazing !!!!
It makes a large loaf. What I do is make a double batch and then make four small loafs. I make the dough and set each round in one corner of a cookie sheet. I then set the cookie sheet in the freezer uncovered. When the dough freezes, I wrap each loaf individually in foil and put it in a freezer baggies. Then when wanting a loaf you unwrap it and bake frozen. It will only add 5-10 minutes more to cooking. There are 2 reasons I do this. First the original loaf is pretty big to bake off frozen. Second I am trying to controle what we eat. If I bake a lot, we eat a lot. A small loaf make 4 nice size wedges. Just perfect for my family.
Without going on and on, one of the problems with baking is there are lots of different versions of things. Soda bread can be like that. It can be very dry and bread like, it can be very moist and biscuit like. I would say this recipe is similar to a scone batter (well to what I call a scone. Again different people have different versions). One person mentioned their scones never turn out. Well without me being there I am not sure why. It could be a bad recipe. Sadly to say, there are more bad recipes out there then good ones. But here are some tricks that work for me when making things like scones, biscuits and this recipe.
1. Keep butter in the size of small peas. You do not want it blended too much. You want to feel rough pieces of butter. As you bake, those bigger pieces of butter will help create a flaky texture.
2. Make sure the butter is very cold before you bake. Let say you are making this recipe and want to bake it then. At least set your soad bread back in the fridge or freezer for 1/2 hour to rechill the butter. Cold is your friend.
3.Do NOT over mix. This is not bread dough, you do not want to knead. Use a light hand when working. When mixing wet with dry mix till it just comes together, then stop. Even when using a recipe for biscuits that calls for kneading, go very lightly.
4. Do not OVERbake. A lot of baked items I have had over the years were baked way to long. You bake till the center is done. If it is cookies you bake even less but that is another post. Do not worry about if the outside looks brown enough, just cook this soad bread till it is cooked in the center. Not a minute more. With this recipe, at 40 minutes I would start keeping an eye on it.
5. Lastly, this is not a trick but I find baked items like this cooked with buttermilk seem to be tender. So the buttermilk in the recipe will help. Get the best richest buttermilk you can get.
I hope this helps. I am no expert, just a homemaker. But over the years of me cooking, helping other, teaching my girls and friends these are things I have learned. I know with this long post it sounds hard, but it really is not. After a couple of times it will seem like old hat.
Soda Bread with Candied Oranges and Dark Chocolate
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup bittersweet , cut into 1/3-inch pieces or chips
1/4 cup candied orange peel, diced or zest from 2 oranges
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 large egg
Scoop dough onto cookie sheet. Form dough into about 6-inch-diameter round, about 2 inches high. Using sharp knife, cut 1-inch-deep x on top of bread.
Bake bread about 50-65 minutes (35-45 for small loaf) till center comes clean when inserted with a skewer. Transfer bread to rack.
Makes 1 large round loaf