Irish Soda Bread with Dates and Caraway

Irish Soda Bread with Dates and Caraway

This California-inspired version of the Irish classic by food editor and author Mindy Fox swaps currants for dates for a delicious twist.

Makes 2 loaves or 20 small buns

Ingredients

  • Parchment paper or nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
  • 1 1/2 cups spelt or whole-wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 1 1/8 teaspoons baking soda
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small cubes
  • 10 ounces dates, pitted, chopped (2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons turbinado or demerara sugar
  • Sweet butter or blue cheese for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 375ºF with rack in middle. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly coat with nonstick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, spelt or whole-wheat flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt, caraway seeds, and baking soda. Using fingertips, rub in chilled butter until coarse meal forms. Gently mix in dates, separating date pieces that stick together. Stir in buttermilk and zest to blend.
  3. Using lightly floured hands, form dough into 2 equal balls. Arrange balls on baking sheet, at least 2 inches apart. Using a large chef’s knife, score an X into the top and to the edges of each ball. Sprinkle with turbinado or demerara sugar. Bake until brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let cool on pan on rack. Serve warm or at room temperature plain or spread with sweet butter or blue cheese.

*To make small buns, divide dough among 20 lightly oiled standard muffin cups. Score an X at the top of each ball. Sprinkle with turbinado or demerara sugar. Bake at 375ºF on middle rack until buns are golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes.

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