I love soda bread for its not-too-sweet taste and chewy texture. I’m not a skilled baker, but soda bread is simple enough and doesn’t require me to shape dough into leaves (or anything of that nature that would immediately throw me into a cold sweat). ☺ The traditional soda bread with raisins or currants is always a favorite, but this time I wanted something slightly sweeter and more seasonal.
For this recipe, I was inspired by Jennifer McGruther’s brown soda bread with currants and flaked oats in The Nourished Kitchen. Instead of the currants and oats, I used Honeycrisp apple bits that I baked with spices and brown sugar. I modified the dough accordingly to accommodate the additional moisture from the apples, and also doctored it up with spices and sugar. McGruther advises letting the dough sit for hours, but I skipped this step because I wanted to eat soda bread for breakfast!
—Danielle at Sweet Home Sauce
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, slowly pour the buttermilk into the flour. Mix until a dry and “shaggy” dough forms. Let sit while you work on the apples.
Peel and chop the apples, and mix with sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract and a splash of water. Place in a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Fold the parchment paper over the apples and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove the apples from the pan and toss in strainer to remove excess liquid. They will retain some liquid…it’s ok. Let cool.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Go back to the dough. Mix in the cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, vanilla extract, salt and baking soda. Once the apples have cooled a bit, add them to the dough mixture. Adding the apples should be the key to giving your dough the right amount of moisture. If not, add a bit more buttermilk.
Toss some flour onto a counter/chopping block, remove dough from bowl and place in the center. If the dough is too wet to remove cleanly from the bowl, add a bit more flour.
Turn the dough a couple of times to form into a ball. Use a sharp knife to make an “x” on the top of the ball, going about a quarter inch deep. Brush the top of the dough with a light layer of heavy cream.
Place the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 450 degrees for 25 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees, and bake for approximately 20 more minutes. When the dough has risen completely and is turning light brown on the top, it’s done.
Remove from the oven and let cool before cutting.
To serve: swirl a bit of honey into good butter for an extra touch of sweetness, or top with butter and apple butter!