BY: Sam Parks (January 2012)
Adapted from “Soda Bread Biscuits” by Elsie on Simplyrecipes.com
Growing up, we always had Bisquick brand “drop biscuits” with dinner…I grew to loath them! They were always dry, crumbly, and flavored only with chemical leavening agents-YUCK. For many years I had an obsessive phobia for all breads made with baking soda. It wasn’t until college that I would try soda breads again.
Suffering from a severe post-St. Patrick’s day hangover, I decided to try my hand at stout stew and soda bread. The bread was moist and flavorful; with a subtle nuttiness accentuated by the caraway seeds…this was not the bread of my childhood culinary nightmares. I instantly loved it
So when I was asked to prepare corned beef and cabbage at the Nook for one of our beer dinners I knew I had to make some form of soda bread. After all, what’s Irish cuisine without post-industrial chemically leavened bread?
These biscuits, adapted from the recipe “Irish Soda Bread Biscuits” by Elsie on simplyrecipes.com, were perfect; easily adaptable, moist, and packed with flavor. Many patrons at the Nook were well fed with this slightly modified recipe. Thanks Elsie!
*Author’s note: when making pastries, dough, or biscuits that require flakiness, it is helpful to ensure your butter is very cold. This helps the butter to spread into thin sheets during the baking process. When it melts the butter coats the surrounding flour, and essentially creates a butter and flour sandwich. Presto flakiness! If the butter is too warm, it will incorporate into the dough too efficiently, giving you a dense cake like consistently.
-3 cups all-purpose flour
-1 ½ tsp. kosher salt
-1 tsp. baking soda
-1/4 cup sugar
-1 stick of unsalted butter
-1 Tbs. whole caraway seeds
-4 slices of well-done crumbled bacon
-1 ½ cups butter milk
-Melted butter or bacon fat
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease a standard muffin tin (12 muffins) using the melted butter or bacon fat.
- Cut the butter into small (pea sized) chunks. Transfer the cut butter to the freezer for no more than 15 minutes, any longer and it will be too cold to work with.
- Combine the flour, salt, baking soda, and sugar in a large bowl. Whisk these ingredients together until well distributed.
- Plop the butter into the flour mixture. Immediately, begin to “smoosh” the chunks of butter together between your thumbs and forefingers. Working as quickly as possible, continue smooshing until the flour and butter mixture resembles very coarse sand (there should not be any pebble sized chunks of butter loitering around).
- Mix the caraway seeds and bacon into the dough mixture.
- Pour the buttermilk into the dough, and stir gently until it is well incorporated. DO NOT OVERMIX.
- Portion the dough evenly into the prepared muffin tins (I find it easier to use a spring-loaded ice cream scoop).
- Cook for 12-14 minutes.
- Immediately remove the muffins from the pan to wire rack.
- Cool slightly, and enjoy!