'Other Than Irish' Soda Bread with Cumin, Fennel andFigs

March 21, 2013

Author Notes: The base of Irish soda bread is so much fun to play with; you can add so many different flavorings to create different flavor profiles. Fennel and figs make good partners and I wanted to create a more savory dimension by adding cumin and curry powder to the mix. It's a lightly sweet bread with savory elements so it can fit into a number of different scenarios, from tea time to tea sandwiches to dinners.LE BEC FIN

Makes: 4 small loaves


  • 4 cups White Whole Wheat flour
  • 3 cups white flour
  • 1 cup fine ground organic cornmeal*
  • 3 Tablespoons baking powder,sieved
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup demerara/raw sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 Tablespoons ground cumin (from toasted seeds)
  • 2 teaspoons toasted cumin seeds
  • 1Tablespoon Madras Curry powder (Star brand is excellent)
  • 1 Tablespoons toasted fennel seeds
  • 1/2 pound cold unsalted butter, cut in about 1 Tablespoon chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon buttermilk
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2- 1 3/4 cup chopped dried black Mission or Turkish figs
  • 1 1/2- 1 3/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1 large egg for glaze
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt for glaze
  • 1-2 teaspoons raw fennel seeds for glaze
In This Recipe


  1. Combine flour through fennel in stand mixer with paddle in bowl.Mix to blend. Add butter and run til there are pea shaped bits of butter.Add buttermilk combined with eggs and mix just til dough comes together. Remove bowl from stand; transfer dough to bowl; add prunes and currants. Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead lightly- just til comes together.
  2. Cut into three approximately 23 ounce pieces and form each into an oval, adding flour if needed to keep from sticking.Put on silpat or parchment -lined baking sheet. Beat together eggs and salt and brush on bread. Sprinkle with fennel seeds. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes until browned on top and bottom and an inserted skewer comes out clean and hot.**
  3. * Organic cornmeal makes such a difference in flavor (Just say No to Quaker Oats!) but make sure to store it in the frig or freezer because it can easily go rancid.
  4. * *This 'quick bread' is, like biscuits and scones, best eaten the day it is baked.(Any leftover baked bread is better toasted.) Otherwise, the dough can be tightly wrapped and frozen, and baked off frozen (not defrosted) within a month.

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