The Shepherds’ Irish Soda Bread

The Shepherds’ Irish Soda Bread

Makes 1 (9-inch) round loaf. Recipe is by Marcie Shepherd, who says leftovers can be made into bread pudding with Irish Whiskey Cream Sauce.

2 eggs

2 cups sour cream

3½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup sugar

2½ tsps. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

¼ tsp. baking soda

½ cup golden raisins

½ cup chopped dates

Buttermilk, optional

½ cup chopped pecans, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch springform pan.

2. Whisk eggs together; add sour cream.

3. In separate bowl, blend together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Slowly combine the dry ingredients with the eggs and sour cream. The dough will be dense and heavy with the consistency of biscuit dough. Gently fold in the raisins and dates, adding buttermilk for moisture if needed. (If adding pecans, this is the point to do so.) If mixture is too runny, a small amount of additional flour can be added.

4. Gently spoon the mixture into the greased springform pan and bake for 40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes and release sides of pan. Cool additional 15 minutes prior to removing from pan. Bread is fragile, heavy and dense, so additional time to cool is required before handling.

5. If freezing, wrap leftover bread slices in wax paper and then in freezer bag. This allows individual servings for toasting. If converting to bread pudding, cut leftover bread into 1-inch chunks. Place in a greased shallow baking dish with 3 tablespoons of melted butter on bottom of pan. (If not enough leftover bread to fill dish, supplement with leftover French bread.) In separate bowl, mix together: 3 eggs, 4 cups milk or cream (combo OK), 1 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons vanilla and a dash of cinnamon. Pour over bread. Bake in a water bath for 30 to 40 minutes until set. Serve with Irish Whiskey Cream Sauce.

Irish Whiskey Cream Sauce

Recipe is by Marcie Shepherd, who says this sauce is great with bread pudding, over ice cream, as a dipping sauce for fruit or with warm pound cake. Keep in a jar in the refrigerator to pull out when needed, then heat and serve.

1 cup brown sugar

1 tbl. cornstarch

1 cup heavy cream

2 shots of Irish whiskey, the smoother, the better

1. This is a bit like making pralines so start with low heat and a heavy quart-size saucepan. Heat sugar over low heat, stirring constantly to avoid burning.

2. Mix cornstarch with ¼ cup heavy cream and set aside. Add remaining heavy cream slowly to melted sugar, stirring until well blended. Bring to slow simmer and cook 10 minutes constantly stirring. Add whiskey and remaining cream and continue stirring until mixture reaches desired thickness.