The Real Dish on Irish Soda Bread

17 03 2013

The first time I made Irish Soda Bread for my traditional St. Patrick’s Day dinner, I fell for this particular carbohydrate, admittedly because it required few ingredients, few steps, and few minutes. I tend to shy away from recipes with a long ingredient list and a significant commitment to prep. I really don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I don’t enjoy spending hours in the kitchen, or because it translates into less clean up, or because usually I’m missing at least one ingredient from a long, involved recipe. Any way you slice it, I always change recipes to fit my family’s preferences and conveniences. So, this Irish Soda Bread recipe is one version that I make. You can experiment with flour ratios to fit your taste since it’s a very forgiving bread.

Native American slaves first introduced the Irish to baking bread without yeast, which did not catch on until famine hit Ireland in the mid 1800s. Bread was already a daily staple, but poverty forced the Irish to use bicarbonate of soda as leaven for a cheaper, non-perishable alternative. They simply call it Soda Bread: Brown if it’s made with a majority of wheat flour, and White if it’s made with a majority of white flour. Makes sense. Soda Bread is a dense loaf with a hard crust. Traditionally it has a cross marked on the top for reasons varying from religious to communal to practical. Americans now add sugar and dried fruit to Soda Bread. My Soda Bread is a traditional Irish recipe.

IMG_4030 IMG_4031

Rustic Irish Soda Bread

¾ C. buttermilk (mix ¾ C. milk with 1 T. lemon juice and set aside)

½ C. whole-wheat flour

1 ½ C. all-purpose flour

½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

Mix flours, soda and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the buttermilk. Stir until mixed. Gently knead the dough with hands and place in a semi-flat mound in the center of a baking sheet. I prefer to use a Silpat. Use a butter knife to carve a shallow cross on the top if you prefer. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Slightly cool and slice into wedges. Serve with softened butter (I dye ours with green food coloring on 3/17!). Serves 4-6




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