Monday, March 21, 2016

Irish Soda Bread Muffins

Irish Soda Bread. It's one of my favorite treats. There is just something so incredibly irresistible about the sweet, salty, buttery crumb of a good slice of Americanized soda bread. By "Americanized" I mean that my soda bread is always enriched with butter, eggs, and a generous amount of sugar. Very un-Irish-like. However, those special ingredients not only keep love handles firmly in place on our American backsides, but also are essential in making a perfectly moist and delicious loaf of bread!

Since my kids love anything in muffin form, I decided to turn our favorite soda bread into muffins! I employed Emma to help me with this project, but after I told her she had to stop eating the raisins, she lost interest and went to read on the couch, but not before instructing me to let her know when the muffins were finished so she could eat one. My children are so helpful. Only Lucy helped out by wrapping herself around my legs and forcing me to walk as if I were balancing a tennis ball between my kneecaps, opening and closing the bottom door of the oven just for kicks, or throwing every magnet off the refrigerator door. Even with all these distractions, these muffins were ready to slide into the oven before it was even done preheating! I love recipes like this.

Twenty minutes later, we were rewarded with these wonderful muffins that are perfect smeared with jam (Matthew's preference), a generous pat of butter (Emma's preference), or eaten plain (my preference). Also delicious eating three or four in one sitting (Paul's preference). These sweet treats are simplicity at it's finest. I know it's too late to make a batch for Saint Patrick's Day, but I wouldn't wait until next March to bake another round of these babies! They are simply too good not to enjoy year-round.

Irish Soda Bread Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups raisins
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk
6 tablespoons butter (melted) OR 1/3 cup vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a standard muffin pan.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, and raisins.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk (or equivalent) and melted butter (or equivalent).

Quickly and gently combine the dry and wet ingredients; honestly, this won't take more than a few stirs with a bowl scraper or large spoon. As soon as everything is evenly moistened, quit; further stirring will cause the muffins to be tough.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, filling the cups about 3/4 full; the stiff batter will look mounded in the cups. Top with sparkling white sugar, if desired.

Bake the muffins for 20 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove them from the oven. Tip the muffins in the pan, so their bottoms don't get soggy. Wait 5 minutes, then transfer the muffins to a rack to cool.

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