Irish Soda Bread Muffins

Traditional Irish soda bread is pretty bland. A quick bread that’s good with a stew or smothered in butter and jam, but on it’s own isn’t very appealing. Adding dried cranberries and candied orange peel sweetens what otherwise would be tasteless. I’m using about a third graham flour with all purpose flour, and some added wheat germ for taste and health. Good Irish butter and a little whiskey are fun, optional ingredients that give these muffins a little more richness and Irish appeal. Enjoy these muffins as a brunch starter, in the afternoon with tea, or kept in the freezer to be removed the night before for a quick— on the go— breakfast.

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Irish Soda Bread Muffins

1 1/4 cups/ 6 ounces all-purpose flour
1 cup/ 3 ounces whole wheat flour, or graham flour (alternately, you can use all all-purpose flour)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon wheat germ
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons candied orange peel, chopped*
3/4 cup + 1 teaspoon buttermilk, yogurt, or kefir (or combination)
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon Irish Whiskey

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and orange peel or caraway seeds, if using, whisk together. Add dried cranberries and butter. Using your finger tips, rub together the butter and flour mixture until small crumbs form and cranberries are separated. Add the candied orange peel and stir to combine.

Mix together 3/4 cup buttermilk/yogurt/kefir and 2 tablespoons Irish Whiskey, stir well. Stir into dry ingredients only until moistened, being careful not to over mix. Spray a muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray or butter and flour the tin. Use an ice cream scoop to transfer the batter into the tin.

Mix 1 teaspoon Irish Whiskey with remaining buttermilk and brush the top of the unbaked muffins and sprinkle the top with sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes or until golden and bread sounds hollow when thumped on bottom. Cool muffins on wire rack. Muffins can be frozen and toasted.

Irish Soda Bread

It’s that time of year again when green is the color du jour and everyone, including your pappy, is attempting to talk with an Irish brogue. Yep, it will soon be St. Patrick’s Day. Time for drinking Guinness and Irish whiskey, eating corned beef and cabbage, and let’s not forget the Irish soda bread. This quick and easy bread can be whipped up in no time.

Make it first thing in the morning with cranberries and orange zest to enjoy with your coffee and Bailey’s Irish Cream, or make a savory loaf with caraway seeds and raisins to go with a traditional stew. However you celebrate this spring holiday, just remember soda bread doesn’t have to be made just in March. Enjoy the bread year round when you want a simple and quick homemade bread without the hours of waiting.

Irish Soda Bread

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour, or graham flour (alternately, you can use all all-purpose flour)
2 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon butter, room temperature
3/4 cup + 1 teaspoon buttermilk
2 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Irish Whiskey

Optional: 1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel, 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds, 1/4 cup golden raisins, dried blueberries, dried cranberries, or other small dried fruit

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and orange peel or caraway seeds, if using, whisk together. Add butter and, using your finger tips, rub together until small crumbs form. Add raisins or other dried fruit if you are using them.

Mix together buttermilk and 2 tablespoons Irish Whiskey, stir well. Stir into dry ingredients only until moistened. Turn dough out onto floured surface (dough will be sticky) knead briefly.

Shape into round loaf and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Flatten loaf slightly. Using a sharp knife or razor blade, cut a cross in the top of the loaf. Mix 1 teaspoon Irish Whiskey with remaining buttermilk and brush the top of the unbaked bread with the mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes or until golden and bread sounds hollow when thumped on bottom. Cool bread on wire rack. Cut into wedges and serve slightly warm.