Blame that woman for my blog absence over the past few days. This is my mother. In a rare bit of camera magic, I caught a photo of her before she turned away shouting some nonsense about not being photogenic.
For three days she held Chris and I captive with 2 homemade pies (cherry and apple) 2 pots of seafood gumbo, a beef roast, a ham, 4 pasta salads, red velvet cupcakes, carrot cake, cookies, cheddar-herb poppers and of course, the subject of this post: Dark Chocolate and Candied Orange Peel Soda Bread.
On Saturday morning, as I sat on a stool in the kitchen, nursing a cup of tea and chatting with my mom in my pajamas, she nonchalantly whipped up this bread.
An hour and ten minutes later, she pulled this killer of moderation out of the oven. I cut a wedge and inhaled an addicting blend of chocolate, orange, buttermilk and soda-y bread goodness. Then I broke off a second wedge, and then maybe a third. This bread was bitter, sweet, a touch tangy, and impossible to stop eating. The texture of the bread played the perfect supporting role to the intoxicating flavors: light and crumbly and moist all at the same time just like a buttermilk bread should be.
For the next three mornings, I found myself back on my stool with a giant hunk of this bread in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.
I think this is one of those perfect recipes to keep in your back pocket for when guests come to town. It comes together in one bowl in minutes, and gives you plenty of time to whip up more high-maintenance dishes for an impressive first morning or Friday-after-Thanksgiving breakfast spread, if you so choose. Its a little sweet but not too sweet to snack on throughout the day and lends itself as perfectly to breaking off great chocolate-orange studded hunks around a kitchen counter as it does to slicing with a knife and a pat of butter at a full breakfast table.
And as guests trickle into the kitchen the next morning, its the perfect “reach into the breadbox” kind of snack to go with a pre-breakfast cup of coffee and some quiet catching up among old friends. At the end of the weekend, if they are really lucky, you might even whip up a second loaf while they pack up the car for a lovely snack on the long trip home.
Soda Bread with Dark Chocolate and Candied Orange Peel (From Bon Appetite via Epicurious)
* 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
* 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
* 2 teaspoons salt
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I used a full stick-8 Tbs)
* 6 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, cut into 1/3-inch pieces (A bag of bittersweet chocolate chips works just fine here as well)
* 6 ounces candied orange peel, diced (I used 8 oz-the more the better I think!)
* 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
* 1 large egg
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; butter parchment. Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Add butter; rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in chocolate and orange peel. Whisk buttermilk and egg in medium bowl to blend; add to dry ingredients. Stir just until incorporated.
Turn dough out onto floured work surface and knead gently just until dough comes together, about 5 turns. Form dough into 6 1/2-inch-diameter round, about 2 to 2 1/2 inches high. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Using sharp knife, cut 1-inch-deep, 3-inch-long slits in top of bread, forming sunburst pattern.
Bake bread until well browned and very firm when pressed and tester inserted into center comes out clean, turning baking sheet halfway through baking, about 1 hour 10 minutes total. Transfer bread to rack and cool completely, at least 3 hours. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap in foil and store at room temperature.)