• Posted by Califia Suntree on March 17th, 2011, 9:15 AM

    While I love Irish Soda Bread, I always found our family recipe a little…austere. Granted, there’s good reason for that austerity. It’s meant to be slathered in country butter, or eaten with dishes like stew or corned beef; plus, it’s poor-people’s food. So while I have such warm memories of my mom and grandmother whipping up my Irish great-grandmother’s version of Soda Bread, I decided to tart it up a bit this year.

    And I mean “tart” like my grandmother would mean it—a little too adorned, a little too seductive. That’s because I dolled up the family recipe with dried cherries (instead of raisins) and chunks of bacon. It’s sweet, salty, and ready to party. Here’s to the Irish!

    Makes one 6 1/2″ loaf

    2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    2 tablespoons sugar
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    3 tablespoons slightly softened butter
    1/3 cup chopped dried cherries
    3/4 cup buttermilk (Tip: Keep dried buttermilk on hand to prevent inevitable buttermilk waste.)
    1/2 cup finely chopped uncooked bacon

    1. Heat the oven to 375F and grease a small cookie sheet.

    2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter (a fork works well, or your hands) until mixture resembles fine crumbs.

    3. Stir in the cherries and buttermilk to form a soft dough. Briefly knead the dough in the bowl to blend in the dry bits and make it smooth.

    4. Shape it into a smooth, round, 6 1/2″ loaf. Cut an “X” in the top (or a cross, if that’s your thing), place it on the cookie sheet, and scatter the bacon over the top.

    5. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the loaf is golden brown and the bacon is cooked. Let cool before eating.

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