Irish Soda Bread Scones

This quick bread is half Irish soda bread, half scone, and all good!

I would love to tell you that I was hit by a flash of inspiration to make little individual servings of Irish soda breads, but the truth is I got the idea when I made a mistake with a batch of scones. I had used baking soda instead of baking powder (hey, nobody’s perfect), and I thought the scones tasted similar to Irish soda bread.

My mistake scones were OK, but not great. After a few adjustments, and baking a couple of more batches, I had the scone I was looking for.

These have the flavor of Irish soda bread, but are moister and more buttery like traditional scones. Finally, they are topped with sugar for a little extra sweetness.

I like to eat them plain or with my favorite jam (raspberry peach), and always with a cup of tea.

Biscuit Cutter

You will get the best results if you use a 3” biscuit cutter. I use an Ateco Stainless Steel biscuit cutter.

It is very sturdy, which means it won’t get bent out of shape like thinner cutters. A cookie cutter won’t work, because they aren’t deep enough to use for biscuits. (However, you can use a biscuit cutter for cookies.)

Digital Scale

Sometimes, I prefer to weigh certain ingredients for recipes. This gives you more consistent results. For example, when you measure flour using a measuring cup, you can get a different amount based on how  packed the flour is.

When buying a scale, make sure it can measure grams, ounces, pounds, and milliliters. You also want to be able to reset the scale to zero, sometimes called a tare function. This will let you put a bowl on the scale, and reset it to zero, so you can measure just the ingredients added to the bowl. In other words, a scale like this one: Elec3 Digital Kitchen Scale 

Butter

You don’t want the butter to be completely mixed with the batter. Instead, you want it to remain in small pieces resembling crumbs. The easiest way to achieve this is to grate the butter with a cheese grater. You want the butter cold before you start grating, straight from the fridge is fine. After grating, put the butter in the freezer until needed.

Buttermilk

I’ve listed the approximate amount of buttermilk you will need. You may need a little less or a little more. It is best to slowly pour in the buttermilk until the dough just starts to come together. There will be some dry crumbs at the bottom of the bowl. You do not want the dough to be too wet or sticky.

Recipe

Irish Soda Bread Scones

Makes approx. 9 scones.

Ingredients

  • 1 stick (8 Tablespoons) salted butter, grated and chilled
  • 500 g (4 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 30 g (2 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon) sugar, plus more for topping
  • 1 ¾ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 ¾ teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 egg
  • approx. 1 ¼ cup buttermilk

Topping

  • small amount of milk
  • small amount of sugar

DIRECTIONS

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position, and pre-heat oven to 350˚F. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Grate cold butter with a cheese grater. Put butter in freezer until ready to use. (You could cut into small cubes instead, but grating gives better results)
  3. Sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and kosher salt.
  4. Add in the butter, and in a standing mixer using the flat beater, beat mixture on low until it resembles coarse crumbs. (If you don’t have a standing mixer, cut butter into flour using a pastry cutter, or a fork.)
  5. Add the egg and mix on low for 10 seconds.
  6. With mixer running on low, slowly add the buttermilk a small amount at a time until dough starts to set up. There will be dry crumbs at the bottom of bowl. Do not over mix.
  7. On a floured surface, knead dough a few times until all dry crumbs have been mixed in. Do not over knead, this will result in tough scones.
  8. Roll dough so it is 1″ thick. (You do not have to use a rolling pin, you can just use your hands to flatten).
  9.  Use biscuit cutter to cut out dough. Place scones 1 ½″ apart on cookie sheet.
  10. Brush the tops of the scones with milk, and sprinkle with sugar.
  11. Place the cookie sheet in oven. Total baking time will be 18-20 minutes. Halfway through baking, rotate the cookie sheet 180˚. When done, the scones will be very lightly browned on top.
  12. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Tip: These freeze very well. Simply put the scones in a freezer bag, and stick ’em in the freezer. When you want one, pop it in the microwave for 15 seconds, and then the toaster oven for a few minutes!

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