LAB NOTES: Raisin Irish Soda Bread

Raisin Irish Soda Bread

Hello everyone, Wayne the Mad Food Scientist here.
This time out, I’m making Raisin Irish Soda Bread. I was chatting about my previous loaf of Irish Soda Bread with Mick from the U.K and he suggested taking dried fruit and soaking it in tea, then adding the rehydrated fruit into the dough. That sounded intriguing, so I checked prices at the local grocery store and  the most affordable dried fruit on offer was raisins. Who doesn’t love raisin bread?
As I’d mentioned in my previous Irish Soda Bread post, Irish Soda Bread has a relatively quick turn-around time, comparatively, to yeast risen breads.
I used the same simple recipe that I used before, the only changes I made was to add soaked raisins and to use 50/50 All Purpose flour and Whole wheat flour instead of just All Purpose flour. I’ve included instructions on making buttermilk substitutes so you don’t have to go looking for them. Hopefully you have the ingredients on hand. ( Future Post )

LAB NOTES: 07 May, 2023
438g/3 1/2 cups flour Today I’m doing half and half. 219g of All Purpose flour and 219g of Whole Wheat flour. Although, I have used all All Purpose flour in the past.
1 tsp baking soda, I used 1 TBSP baking powder since baking powder is what I have on hand, I put in 1 TBSP since to substitute in baking powder for soda it takes about three times as much..
1 TBSP coarse sea salt ( I used Kosher since it is what I have on hand ) or 2 1/4 tsp table salt .
360g/1 1/2 cups butter milk ( Or buttermilk substitute )  I’ll put how to make two buttermilk substitutes below.
115g/1/2cup raisins ( Dry weight ) soaked in tea

1.)  Preheat your oven to 425 Fahrenheit, since I’m using my airfryer to bake I’ll drop that to 405F.
  2.)  First: Make your buttermilk substitute. Instructions below.
While it is standing at room temperature
  3.)  Whisk your flour, salt and baking soda/baking powder together.
  4.)  Make a well in the middle of the mixing bowl and pour in your buttermilk, or buttermilk substitute. Today I’m using milk that I’ve made from split peas that I made yesterday..
  5.)  Toss in the re-hydrated fruit.
  6.)  Stir until it just comes together.
  7.)  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface.
  8.)  Dust your hands with flour.
  9.)  Knead until it forms a smooth ball.
10.)  Dust the outside with flour and ungreased baking sheet is what the recipe says. However, I prefer to line a breadpan with parchment paper and bake it in that.
11.)  Take a sharp knife and slash a one inch deep cross on the top of the loaf.
12.)  Bake 35 minutes or until golden brown is what the recipe says. However, from previous experience, I up the time to 45 – 55 minutes.
NOTE: In the past when I didn’t use parchment paper. I used an old pizza makers trick. I lightly dust the baking sheet ( Or in my case the bottom of the breadpan ) with a very light dusting of corn meal.
This keeps the dough from sticking to the baking sheet.  You can use this one if you like, or not.  It’s your choice.

METHOD 1: Milk. This works for both cow’s milk and plant based milks.
360g/1 1/2 cups milk
2 TBSP Lemon juice, distilled white vinegar, or apple cider vinegar.

Pour the milk into a measuring cup.
Pour the acid into the milk
Let stand at room temperature for about ten minutes
It should thicken slightly. While you’re waiting for this you can set up the rest of the recipe.
Stir again before adding to the mixing bowl. 

METHOD 2: ( Yoghurt )
1 1/4 cup plain yoghurt. 
1/4 cup water
Put the yoghurt into your measuring cup
pour in the water
Let stand at room temp while you get your other things set up.
Stir again before adding to the mixing bowl.
I’ve done both milk variants. With cow’s milk and with Oatmilk.
I’ve also done the yoghurt variant. Honestly, the bread made with it tasted better.
Although, that was done with cow’s milk yoghurt. I’ll have to make some Oatmilk yoghurt and try it as a buttermilk substitute.

WHAT I DID: 07 May, 2023
I actually began the prep work for this recipe yesterday 06 May, 2023 when I steeped a teabag of Oolong and a teabag of Canalita ( Mexican Cinnamon tea ) Then, I put the 115g of raisins in the mug. Then I put it in the refrigerator overnight. Why 115g? It seemed like the right amount. Today, I setup the buttermilk substitute first.
I used 360g of Split Pea Milk and Apple Cider Vinegar.
I was really happy with the curdling that occurred with this plant based milk.

Buttermilk substitute. Using a handy pint sized container.

Then I weighed out the flours, added the salt and baking powder.
I whisked the dry ingredients together.

Dry ingredients

Then I added the buttermilk substitute, stirred it up with the handle of one of my wooden spoons. This is a tip that I picked up from John Kirkwood on his eponymous YouTube channel, it’s been quite handy. Next, I added in the soaked raisins. I stirred the dough together.

Ready to knead.

I started my airfryer preheating. Next, I put the dough onto a floured surface, floured up my hands and kneaded the dough until it was a smooth-ish ball. I lined my breadpan with parchment paper and put the dough in the pan 

Ready to bake

When the airfryer sounded. I put the bread in the oven with the timer set to 50 minutes… 
 It came out quite nicely

Making this bread was like spending tme with an old trusted friend. It has never failed me. It also shows off the versatility of this simple recipe. I’ll be honest, if I want bread and don’t want to wait the time it takes to make yeast risen bread this is my go-to. It’s easy to throw together, and only takes about an hour to produce. On a side note, I didn’t throw away the tea that I soaked the raisins in. I put it in a glass, put in a bit more water, than topped it with some split pea milk. It was tasty, and refreshing. I’ll say it again, why would I want to waste flavour? This little gem will be made again in the future. 
Thanks for the idea Mick!

Keep Safe!!