IRISH SODA BREAD
St. Patrick’s day is just around the corner so I’ve decided to share one of my favorite St. Patty’s day traditions (and no, it doesn’t involve green beer). I can’t take credit for the recipe, it’s coming straight from the master, James Beard.
This is a great recipe for those of you who made a New Year’s resolution to learn bread making, and then didn’t know where to start. Irish soda bread is actually leavened with baking soda and buttermilk instead of yeast - hence the name. This means there is no waiting around and no guesswork about when to bake.
I’ve included a version here baked with currants, which add a nice texture and sweetness to the loaf, it’s perfect lightly toasted and schmered with butter (or dairy-free delicious spread of your choice). For a more savory approach to pair with your corned beef (or eggs, salmon, salad, whatever really), simply omit the currants.
Adapted from Beard on Bread Knopf, 1974
IRISH SODA BREAD - VEGETARIAN
Servings: 1 8" loaf (happy snacking for 6-8) — PREP TIME: 10 MINUTES — COOK TIME: 1 hour 15 minutes
3 cups whole-wheat flour (the coarser the better!)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp baking powder
1 ½ cups buttermilk
1 cup currants
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit with a rack placed in the lower third of the oven.
Mix the flours, salt, baking powder and soda together in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add the buttermilk and currants and knead gently with your hands to create a soft dough, “similar in quality to biscuit dough.” If your dough is on the dry side, you can add up to another ½ cup of buttermilk. It should stay together, but not sag.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead for 2-3 minutes, until smooth and velvety. Keeping the bottom of the dough on the counter, roll it from hand to hand create a round loaf. Transfer your loaf to a greased cookie sheet or 8” cake pan.
Deeply cut a cross pattern into the top of the dough with a sharp knife. You want to cut at least 1 inch down, this will create the distinctive soda bread look, and also ensure that the loaf bakes through.
Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the loaf is browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. For the scientifically inclined, an internal temperature should read over 190 degrees Fahrenheit.
Allow the bread to cool (this is actually the finishing step of the baking process and sets all that lovely gluten to prevent a gummy mess!), slice thinly, and enjoy!
While you wait for your bread to bake and cool, grab a glass of Guiness (no green beer please!) - Sláinte!
because of its dense, moist texture you want to slice soda bread as thin as you can, otherwise it can be a little cloying. Makes a great substitute for bagels if you have any cream cheese and smoked salmon laying around.