This Irish Soda Pecan and Raisin Scones has a nice texture inside and out. The exterior has a nice crunch while the inside is soft, with natural sweetness from raisins, a nice crunch from pecan and a delightful orange flavor from fresh Orange. A mash-up between soda bread and scone.
I started making Irish Soda Bread 2 years ago, and ever since I had made it a point to mke at least 1 post a year which happens few days before St. Patrick’s Day. I am not Irish, not a single drop of blood but we do not need to be Irish to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, so let us make Irish Soda Bread any time of the year. I hope I am not offending Irish people out there by calling this Irish Soda Scones, as this is quite far from a traditional Irish Soda Bread. That is the good thing about food, variations are welcome so we can all be creative and make something new to add a twist to the traditional version. I was thinking what to variation to make and among the 3 variations that I was testing, this was the one that came out perfect for my taste, the other two still needs more testing and tweaking and most probably they will be posted next year. For this year, let us take a look at this Irish Soda Pecan and Raisins Scones.
Traditional vs. Non Traditional Irish Soda Bread
I am not a traditionalist, I like making my own version and I love adding twist to food that I make. I encourage myself to be creative, to think out of the box and to make baking activity fun and a creative process. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like classic recipes, I do. Classic recipes are timeless and are foundation to creating something new. Classic recipes and traditional recipes are the basis of most of my own variation, this Irish Soda included. Some people might say that the changes I made for this recipe made it not an Irish Soda anymore, but that’s ok I welcome disagreement, after all we all have different taste and different opinion on food. This is just my own take of how I like my Irish Soda Bread.
Traditional or Classic Irish Soda Bread uses down to very basic ingredients like flour, baking soda, salt and buttermilk. Then there’s the non-traditional version like this recipe which uses additional ingredients like butter, sugar, egg and dried fruits, almost like a Scone. I’ve made both version several times, I actually started with the traditional version and I never had a luck in getting the texture and taste that I want. It turned out dense no matter how gentle I handled it, it was bland and dry. I don’t know how the traditional or authentic Irish Soda Bread taste like so don’t have anywhere to compare it to, but one thing I know I was not happy with what I had produced so far. I almost decided to give up on it after making it twice, but then I thought I should give it another try. Baking really thought me a lot about being patience and determination. So, I gave it a 3rd try but I did modifications with the hope that I will get it the way I want it. I went for the non-traditional version of adding butter, sugar, egg and dried fruits. Guess what? It worked like magic! The bread turned out perfect more than I could imagine.
Irish Soda Pecan & Raisins Scones
Think of this as a mashed-up between a soda bread and a scones. In fact, this can be baked as 1 whole piece just like a regular soda bread, or you can bake it as a scones or even like a biscuit. Really, it is just a matter of how you want it to look like because the taste will be the same. I thought for this year, I would make something slightly different, a soda scones. This soda scones has a wonderful texture inside and out. A nice fresh crunch outside and soft and moist inside. This is more on a sweeter side scone, the sweetness from small amount of sugar plus the natural sweetness from raisins. I also like the crunch that the pecan gave this scones. Pecan is softer compared to other nuts like Almond or Walnut which makes it suitable for add-on in breads and scones like this one. Aside from the natural sweetness and the crunch, this scones also have a nice citrus flavor from Orange. I love using Orange to flavor pastries, it adds such a nice fresh taste to the scone. If you are not a fan of Orange, you can use Lemon zest or some cinnamon powder will work nice too.
How is This Different from a Regular Scones?
Butter. The amount of butter is less in making this Soda Scones. For a smalll batch of 4 pieces, we only use 2 tablespoon of butter while regular scones would use probably twice as much. So if you want to cut down on butter and you are craving for homemade scones, go for this soda scones instead. It is a delicious as regular scone (like my Orange Scones) but with less butter. I have a short video of my Orange Scone, check it out.
Make it with Orange Glaze
Although this is good served as it is, often times I like adding some Orange glazed on top. I like the additional sweetness that it gave the scone, plus it adds more Orange flavor. You can easily make the Orange glaze by mixing freshly squeeze orange juice, Orange zest and icing sugar. You can make it as thin or thick as you like by adjusting the amount of Orange juice. If you do not have Orange juice, water or milk will work just fine.
Tips for a Successful Soda Bread
- Measure baking soda properly: The main leavening agent of this bread is the baking soda. Since this is a quick bread, meaning no yeast needed, the baking soda + buttermilk is the key to having a soft crusty and rustic looking bread. Do the spoon level technique when measuring the ingredients. To much baking soda can make the bread taste acidic and can have the tendency to turn the color of your bread “greenish”, we don’t want a green looking rustic bread! SO measure well, and mix well.
- No kneading: This is your opportunity to make a lovely lookiou can ng rustic bread without kneading and waiting for it to rise, so grab that chance! All this bread needs is gentle mixing and light touch just to form the dough into a disk. Don’t bother making it smooth, we want it to look rustic. The rougher it look, the better.
- Buttermilk vs. Milk: Since this bread does not require yeast and long rest period, buttermilk is one of the key ingredients for the bread to have a softer texture. Since buttermilk is acidic, it will react with baking soda helping the bread to rise as it bakes in the oven. I have tried using regular milk, it was ok but it was a little bit dense as compared to using buttermilk. You don’t need to buy whole carton of buttermilk just to make this bread, you can make your own by mixing 1/2 cup milk + 1 teaspoon lemon juice or white vinegar. Let rest for 10-15 minutes or until it starts to curdle.
- Hot and Always Close Oven: Always pre-heat your oven, just like making biscuits, hot oven is a must to have the puff-up and rustic looking bread. Although it is always tempting to open the oven to check the bread, avoid doing that. Closed oven all-through out the baking will create a rustic and lovely brown crust, which is totally worth the wait. Opening the oven will let the steam and heat escape and can deflate the bread.
- Use of Add-On Ingredients: I suggest that you soak in water and honey whatever dried fruits you are using before adding it to the dry ingredients. Dried fruits have a tendency to absorb moisture of the liquid when added into the mixture. This means that it will compete with the dry ingredients and it could absorb the moisture that is supposed to be for the flour, resulting to a dry soda dough. Soaking it in water will soften the dried fruits and at the same time will make it moist even when it is baked.
There you go, few tips to remember. Let’s put it to use and let’s get started!
- 1 cup All-Purpose Flour
- 2 tablespoon White Sugar (If you like it sweeter, add 1 tbsp more)
- 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 2 tablespoon cold Butter – cut into cubes
- 2 Large Orange Zest
- 1/4 cup Raisins – chopped into small pieces
- 1/4 cup Pecans – chopped into small pieces
- 1 Egg – refrigerated
- 1/4 cup cold Buttermilk (You can make also make a buttermilk by mixing 1/4 cup milk + 1 teaspoon lemon juice or white vinegar. Let sit for 10-15 minutes until it curdles)
- Orange Zest
- 1/4 cup Icing Sugar
- 2 teaspoon Orange Juice
Note: Adjust the consistency of the glaze by adding more Orange juice
- Preheat oven to 375F degrees. Line small cookie sheet with parchment paper or dust iron skillet with flour. Set aside while you make the dough.
- Mix Wet Ingredients: Mix buttermilk and beaten egg. Set aside 1 tablespoon for brushing the top later.
- Mix Dry Ingredients: In a medium size bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and orange zest. Cut in butter with a fork or large cheese grater (or with your fingers) until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in raisins and pecans.
- Wet + Dry Ingredients: Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Use a sturdy spoon to mix the ingredients. Use the left over buttermilk mixture you set aside in step 3 for brushing top of the bread later.
- Shape the Bread: Transfer in a floured surface and using your hands, form it into a disk about 6-inch diameter. DO NOT knead, just gather the dough together to form it. You don’t also need to make the surface smooth, uneven surface if fine. It will look more rustic once baked. Cut into 4 pieces. Brush top with leftover buttermilk mixture.
- Alternatively, you can bake it as is without cutting into 4 pieces. If baking as 1 round pieces, cut a 1/4-inch deep cross on top of the dough.
- Let it Rest: Let sit for 15 minutes in the refrigerator, this will allow the baking soda to react with the buttermilk giving the dough a slight lift but nothing much like a regular yeast bread. You can also wrap it with plastic wrap and leave it overnight in the refrigerator for baking the following day. Fantastic make-ahead freshly baked breakfast.
- As a 4 piece Scone: Transfer in a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until top turned golden brown
- As 5-inch Round Soda Bread: Transfer in cast iron pan or parchment lined cookie sheet and bake 25 – 30 minutes, or until dough is just cooked through and the top is a light golden brown.
- Make the Orange Glaze (optional): Mix Orange juice, icing sugar and Orange zest until smooth. You can adjust the consistency of the glaze by adding more Orange juice or adding more icing sugar. The more liquid you add, the thinner the consistency will be. Make sure to let the scones cool down before drizzling the glaze on top of scones.
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