S.F. Rising: Raisin Soda Bread from John Campbell's
|Had I known soda bread could be this good...|
Raisin Soda Bread
Source: John Campbell's Irish Bakery, 5625 Geary (at 21st Ave.) 387-1536.
John Campbell's squarish, lumpy soda bread is the size of a dinner plate and no more than two inches at its thickest point. Each slice is densely spotted with black and gold raisins. It looks like a behemoth scone, a stollen formed by orcish bakers.
The loaf I bought this week has redeemed every slice of soda bread I've eaten to date. This one stays dense and soft where others ― tough, gritty brown loaves ― have sump-pumped the moisture from my mouth. John Campbell's tastes of flour and fruit, with no acrid twinge from the soda.
John Campbell bakes several kinds of Irish soda breads, both cake breads and farls. This loaf would actually be considered more of a tea cake, its light sweetness intensified by the dried fruits. The counter person told me that it keeps for three to four days, and freezes and unthaws well.
If you can figure out how to fit the foot-long, biscotto-shaped slices in your toaster, it also makes a great breakfast. I've been toasting a couple of slices every morning for three days now, gilding them with Straus European-style salted butter, and it hasn't grown stale yet.