Monday, March 5, 2012

Cherry Walnut Soda Bread

If you've been following along with this blog, you know that I recently hosted a 30th birthday party for one of my closest friend. We wanted to have snacks at the party that could work as appetizers as well as hang out most the night to keep us well fed while we drank many adult beverages chatted and shared stories about life. Keeping this in mind, I decided to do an assortment of breads and cheeses.  I also made some infused butters for a little extra fun. (Infusing butter = so easy and looks SO fancy! Shout if you are interested in learning how; I can do a post.) For this party, I did a garlic chive butter and a lavender butter.

The idea behind this party was MEGA celebration, TINY budget, so baking bread and getting a few types of cheese really helped this happen. I wanted an array of bread flavors/textures, so I went with a classic white, honey oat, banana bread and cherry walnut soda bread. (Two of these I made ahead and froze, so this is something you could plan several weeks before an event if you wanted to do the same thing). I also made sure I had a mix of cheese flavors so there was something to compliment each type of bread. Not being a cheese expert, and, again, keeping budget in mind, I ended up with a locally made pepper jack; cinnamon-cranberry goat cheese; smoked Gouda; and a spread I made out of ricotta, lemon zest, vanilla bean, and honey.

The cherry walnut soda bread is SO EASY and SO TASTY. This is a bread that does not need to rise and you can mix it all in one bowl--it's a bit similar to the process for making biscuits. Plus, it looks and sounds fancy.

(For a printable version of this recipe, click here)
Cherry Walnut Soda Bread  (Yield - 1 round loaf)
Adapted from the Irish Soda Bread recipe on  
4 to 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 large egg
1 3/4 cup milk   
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup walnuts, chopped

Step #1 - Preheat over to 424* F.

Step #2 - Mix together four cups of the flour, the sugar, salt and baking soda in a large mixing bowl.

Step #3 - Using your fingers or a pastry cutter, work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse sand. 

Step #4 - Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add the egg (beaten) and milk into the well. Mix together with a spoon until the dough is too stiff to stir. 

Step #5 - Work in the dried cherries and walnuts. 

Step #6 - Knead in the additional half cup of four until the dough holds together. Don't add so much that it dries out! It should be slightly sticky, but able to be handled and lumped into a ball.  It will resemble biscuit dough.

Step #7 - Shape the dough into a large ball and place it on a greased cookie sheet or in a greased pie pan.  I like to use a pie pan because it keeps the dough from spreading too much and helps hold the round shape.

Step #8 - Using a large knife, cut the shape of an X approximately 1 inch deep into the top of the dough. There is a lot of superstition around the 'crossing' of traditional soda bread. Maybe considered it marking the bread with the sign of the cross. The real reason you do it is so that the heat of the oven can reach the center of the dough.

Step #9 - Bake for 35-40 minutes until the bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped. You can also test for 'done-ness' by sticking a long skewer into the center of the bread. When the skewer comes out clean, the bread is done. This bread is delicious warm, covered in butter.Really, it's delicious any time.

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  1. Yum! I love easy baking recipes because I stink at baking! :)

    1. We need to be a team-- I stink at cooking real food. Together, we could be unstoppable!! (or really fat) :-P