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, Bobbi Murray, who added jalapeño 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
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Butter a cookie sheet, set it aside.
Then, in a good-sized bowl: mix the flour…
Add the butter and chop it into small pieces,
then stir it around to distribute it.
Add the chopped jalapenos. Blend them into the mix.
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.
Turn the dough out on to the floured surface and push it into a ball. (Here’s where your flour-covered hands come in—the dough won’t stick to them.)
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.
Shape the dough into a round loaf and place it on the baking sheet. With a knife, make a cut from top to bottom and from right to left, like this: +
Irish tradition says the cross keeps the faeries from interfering; it does make a nice pattern as the loaf expands while baking.
Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes (start checking it at 30 minutes, when its brown on the outside its done).
The finished product, japapeno soda bread! The outside should be brown to a deep color—use a toothpick to test the inside done-ness.