Ok, first things first. What's in the name?
The name of this Irish soda bread is a riff on the term Black Irish, which refers to folks of Irish descent who are more dusky in hair, eyes, complexion. Case in point: my husband, with dark hair and eyes. He does tan, but he does not like to be in the sun for very long--that's where the Irish part comes in full force.
Irish soda bread isn't loaded with chocolate or cocoa. Typically.
I can't take total credit for this idea, but the execution is all mine. Many years ago, after we went to Ireland for our honeymoon, I received an imported cookbook called Ballymaloe Bread Book. It is one of my touchstones for floury goodness. There's all sorts of great stuff in there, much of it not "Irish" per se. One of the soda bread recipes has chopped dark chocolate in it, but then I thought, why not make the bread itself chocolate, too? Up the ante. So I've adapted the recipe from that book.
The recipe calls for about a pound of flour (whip out that scale) but I used 10 ounces of all purpose and about 6 ounces of King Arthur Flour's Sprouted Wheat flour, which is a new one from them. Like its more traditional iteration with raisins, this soda bread is not going to be terribly sweet, but instead derives a bit of tang from the buttermilk, and a bit of sweetness from the dark chocolate. Keep in mind this is going to be a wet, shaggy looking loaf before it goes into the oven. Perfection isn't the name of the game here. The more homespun looking, the better.
- 1 pound all-purpose flour
- 2 T. cocoa powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 T. granulated sugar
- 4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (use-the best kind you've got)
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups buttermilk
- 1 large egg
Preheat oven to 425°F. Dust a baking sheet with flour.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour through sugar. Add in the dark chocolate by lifting the ingredients through the flour and dropping them back in; this will bring air into the loaf.
Whisk together the buttermilk and egg in a measuring cup. Make a well in the middle of the bowl and pour in the wet ingredients. Using your hand or a fork, stir just until the ingredients are incorporated. Turn out onto a floured work surface and form into a loose loaf. Let it rest, and wash your hands.
Take a large knife and make a criss cross on the surface of the bread--Irish lore says this lets the fairies escape. (Presumably, they'd mess up your bread and wreak their impish havoc.)
Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes at 425, and then drop down the temperature to 400° and bake for another 30-40 minutes. The bread will sound hollow when you thump it on the underside, but if you're at all unsure, it should read at least 180 degrees with an instant read thermometer.