Today I baked two loaves of soda bread. After baking the first one I thought I’d try another recipe since I had everything out already. The first one is from Cook’s Illustrated and the second is a Mark Bittman recipe. There are some pretty major differences between the recipes and so I’m curious to taste both. The Cook’s Illustrated one gets pretty fussy about the ingredients, calling for low protein flour and cake flour, cream of tartar and sugar. Soda bread is something that’s been around for a long time, being made by Irish and non-Irish the world over, so a less complicated version (not that either is very complicated!) seemed like a good idea to try. Another major difference between the two is that the Cooks Illustrated version calls for butter both within the bread dough and melted on top. My guess is that the more complex recipe (CI) is going to win out for taste since what’s not to love about butter? But I’d imagine a lot of people make a simple one to go with soups and stews.
Pictured below are both loaves. Mark Bittman on the left and CI on the right. As you can see, the CI one looks a little more nicely browned.

The two breads. Left: Bittman, Right: CI