The sweetness of traditional Irish soda bread ingredients—raisins, buttermilk, some sugar—are richly complimented by jalapeño heat. Here’s a soda bread recipe from Ireland brought to the USA from Galway by Mary Patricia Reilly Murray and later transformed with her blessing by her daughter, who added green chile. A real merging of great cultures. Latinopia tested fresh jalapeños for the recipe but prefers those from a jar for two reasons—for one, fresh ones are frequently too tame due to the current dumbing down of the jalapeno for American tastes. But the jar jalapeños are a dependable commodity. You know they’ll be hot when they need to be. And the liquid from preserved jalapenos spreads a delicious low-level burn throughout the soda bread loaf.
2 cups white flour
1 tablespoon sugar
A pinch of salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 cup raisins
¾ stick of chilled butter
1 tablespoon chopped jalapenos from a jar
1 cup buttermilk
then stir it around to distribute it.
The bowl will now be full of mixed dry ingredients.
Now dust a flat mixing surface—a wooden cutting board or a kitchen counter—with flour. Coat your hands with flour as well.
Slowly stir the cup of buttermilk into the dry ingredients. Add a little and blend it with a spoon, mix it slowly and wet all the ingredients. Mix it all into a ball—cautiously add more buttermilk to make it all stick together. Don’t stir too much.
Knead the dough to further blend the ingredients and eventually shape it into a round loaf—add a little buttermilk if there’s too much flour; make it all stick together. But don’t over-do the kneading—it makes the dough tough. Count the number of times you knead it—20 is too many.
Irish tradition says the cross keeps the faeries from interfering; it does make a nice pattern as the loaf expands while baking.
The finished product, japapeno soda bread! The outside should brown to a deep color—use a toothpick to test the inside done-ness.