I couldn’t let St. Patrick’s Day go by without making at least something to share. Word has it I have a bit of Irish in me so once a year I feel the urge to create a tradition around this tenuous heritage. Irish soda bread is typically a simple brown wheat bread leavened with baking soda and buttermilk. Eggs are rarely added. When dried fruit such as raisins are added it’s called sweet cake, spotted dog, railway cake or curnie cake and bears little resemblance to the fruitcake like quick bread we call Irish soda bread in America.
I’ve taken the liberty to incorporate the traditional Irish soda bread flavors of caraway seeds, currants, and orange into a rich dreamy scone: golden crisp and slightly crumbly on the outside and light, tender and biscuity on the inside. I’ve left out the signature decorative soda bread quarter cuts called farls since they would look a bit out of proportion on petite scones.
As a bonus flavor, these not too sweet enticing scones don’t need butter or marmalade on them because they’re already baked in them. Inspiration came from a big batch of just made orange marmalade that practically threw itself into the dough!
Irish Soda Bread and Marmalade Scones
Makes about 15 small scones
2 ½ cups all purpose flour (Since moving South, I’ve become a devoted fan of White Lily flour)
6 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into 24 even cubes
½ tsp baking soda
2 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp kosher salt
2 tsp caraway seeds
¼ cup currants
¼ cup golden raisins
1 tsp orange zest
3 Tbs light brown sugar
2 Tbs white sugar
1 cup buttermilk
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbs orange marmalade
Egg Wash: In small bowl whisk together 1 egg and 1 Tbs milk. Set aside.
Sugar for topping (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat mats.
- In large bowl combine flour and butter. Mix with your fingers or a mixer until mixture resembles tiny pebbles or breadcrumbs.
- Add baking soda, baking powder, kosher salt, caraway seeds, currants, golden raisins, orange zest, light brown sugar and white sugar mixture and stir to combine.
- In medium bowl whisk together buttermilk, egg yolks and orange marmalade. Add to flour mixture in large bowl. Mix gently until evenly combined. Dough will be soft and sticky.
- Drop ¼ cup scoops of dough on baking sheet at least 2” apart. With floured hands, gently pat and form scoops into 3-4” circles. They will still look uneven.
- Brush dough lightly with egg wash and sprinkle with pearl sugar.
- Bake for 12-14 minutes until golden brown. For a classic crispy scone crust, bake a bit longer than you think you need to. The inside of the scone will still be tender.
- Eat the first day baked or freeze once cooled. Bring to room temperature and reheat until warm. Never reheat in microwave.