Thursday, March 20, 2014

Sourdough Soda Bread Biscuits...

...with orange zest, currants and a slight Sourdough twist. 

Soda Bread was the March project for Sourdough Surprises, a fun monthly group of bakers who strive to use sourdough starters for things besides bread. Since soda bread typically relies on baking soda for its rise rather than yeast, the added sourdough comes along for the ride as a flavoring ingredient only. In decades past my early attempts to make soda bread yielded bland, dense, dry loaves suitable for doorstops or boat anchors. I moved on to other loaves and never looked back, until this month's challenge put soda bread back on the menu.

An online search provided a gazillion choices (okay, over a quarter million). I selected a basic, non-sourdough recipe with few ingredients, then changed it... adjusted the flour and buttermilk quantities to account for some added sourdough starter... omitted the recommended caraway seeds... added orange zest to pop the flavor... and carried on with high hopes but low expectations. Small biscuits or loaves sounded somehow less risky than a full-blown loaf, less likely to break a toe if dropped, etc. 

Well hot damn, those little biscuits were delicious! They were moist, loose crumbed but not crumbly, and the orange zest and sourdough took the flavor w-a-y beyond bland. Why did I give up on soda bread so easily those many years ago?! 

Our St. Patrick's Day celebration menu featured Corned Beef baked with a mustard/orange marmalade glaze, Colcannon with Kale, Orange-sauced Carrots, Shamrock Cookies delivered by a local leprechaun, and surprisingly good Sourdough Soda Bread Biscuits. We all agreed, we shouldn't wait for the next St. Patrick's day to roll around in order to enjoy these biscuits again. 

Soda Bread Biscuits
based on a recipe from Food Network Magazine
yield: eight 3-inch biscuits

Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Dry ingredients:
1 3/4 cups AP flour
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients:
2 tablespoons cold butter, diced
1/2 cup currants or raising
zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup milk + 1 Tablespoon white vinegar)
1/2 cup sourdough starter

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a time or two to mix.
  3. Add the diced bits of cold butter to the bowl and pulse several times to incorporate.
  4. Add the raisins, fresh orange zest, buttermilk and sourdough starter to the bowl; pulse off and on until the dough comes together and begins to form a ball. 
  5. Don't get carried away and over pulse on any of the above steps - the dough is meant to be a bit wet, shaggy and sticky.
  6. Put the dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat it out evenly until it's about 1-inch thick. Use a floured biscuit cutter or a knife to cut it into 2 1/2 to 3-inch rounds.
  7. Place on a (silpat-covered) cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
  8. Best eaten warm the same day baked, or reheated in a bun steamer. Soda bread is not noted for it's keeping quality.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Russell. It's amazing how quickly biscuits disappear while loaves linger.

  2. What a great idea, these bisquits look adorably yummy!

  3. Awesome job! Glad you finally got a loaf you like! Your version with orange zest and currants look awesome! :) Thanks for joining us this month!

    1. Thanks, the orange zest really DID pop the flavor for us.

  4. I agree, it was better than expected! Yours look delicious!

  5. Glad you found a recipe that you love! I just looked at your recipe for colcannon. I had never heard of it before. I need to try that too.

    1. We enjoy Colcannon, with cabbage or kale. How can you miss when you add greens, bacon and extra butter to smashed potatoes?!

  6. What a great idea! Biscuits instead of the odd shaped bread. They look great.

  7. What a great idea! Biscuits instead of the odd shaped bread. They look great.

  8. What a wonderful twist to make them as biscuits! They look awesome :)

  9. Yum~ Looks delicious:) Lynn @ Turnips 2 Tangerines

  10. Yours looked much better than mine turned out!. I might try and make it this way next time.

  11. I love that you made it into biscuits! They look so good.


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