Monday, March 16, 2009

Irish Soda Bread ~ It Isn’t Just for St. Patrick’s Day!


We, which is to say, my entire extended family, possess not one iota of Irishness. Believe me when I say that we bring a lot of ethnicity to the family table. We hail from Germany, Argentina, Italy, Ukraine, Colombia, and many points in between. But Ireland? Not so much.

In spite of that, for years ~ since I was a teenager, at least ~ we gather for a St. Patrick’s Day dinner on the Sunday preceding. My parents do the corned beef and cabbage; I do the soda bread, one with raisins and one without.

And for the past two decades at least, I’ve used the same recipe for this soda bread, and I am a little afraid to stray from it at this point. {Culinary feelings run strong at a table where so many hot-blooded cultures are represented.} Although I make variations here and there, and try other recipes at other times, St. Patrick’s Day dinner always gets this version of the soda bread.

You might be used to serving this traditional quick bread alongside your St. Patrick’s Day corned beef and cabbage. Leavened with baking powder and baking soda, this soda bread is really so good and easy, there’s no good reason to limit it to one meal a year! Make it a few times and it just might become a staple in your home. It’s not much different in makeup from, say, a giant scone, which makes it perfect for brunch, breakfast, snacks, soup-side, or teatime. Also, it freezes beautifully because it is so moist ~ make 2 and freeze one, if you can keep everyone away from it.


Irish Soda Bread


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

  • 3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

  • 1 egg

  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk

  • 1/2 cup raisins, optional

  • 1 egg, beaten, for egg wash



  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

  2. In a medium-size mixing bowl, combine white flour, wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and brown sugar.


  3. Cut in butter until mixture has the texture of coarse cornmeal. In a separate small bowl, use a fork to beat together 1 egg and yogurt. If using raisins, stir them into the yogurt mixture.

  4. Pour yogurt mixture into the flour mixture and combine just until dry ingredients are moistened. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly for 8 to 10 turns, just until dough forms a cohesive ball. Place dough on the baking sheet and form into a nicely rounded loaf, approximately 6 inches in diameter. Using a sharp paring knife, cut a 4-inch cross into the top of the dough. Brush loaf with egg wash and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown on top and the interior of the cross cut appears dry. When thumped lightly on the bottom, the bread should sound hollow.

  5. Let cool at least 15 minutes to avoid crumbling when cut. Serve warm with butter.

Cranberry Brown Sugar Soda Bread variation: Replace raisins with dried, sweetened cranberries. Place dough on lightly floured surfaced, sprinkle with additional 1 to 2 tablespoons brown sugar. Knead 4 turns; sprinkle with 1 to 2 more tablespoons brown sugar. Knead final 4 turns. {Don’t worry about mixing the brown sugar into the dough ~ it’ll form a lovely melting ribbon of sugar throughout your loaf.} After brushing with egg wash, sprinkle top of loaf with turbinado sugar. Bake as indicated.


Makes 1 loaf (about 12 slices)


Recipe Notes


  • I like to use yogurt in this recipe because it produces a wonderfully moist soda bread that actually stays moist for a couple of days (if it lasts that long). If you like, you can replace the yogurt with half-and-half, milk, or even whey to which a bit of acid (e.g., lemon juice) has been added. To do this, place 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or cider vinegar in a measuring cup and then fill to the the 3/4-cup mark with your substitute dairy product. Let stand for 5 minutes, then proceed according to directions.
  • Using half whole-wheat flour increases the nutritional value and doesn’t affect the taste much, if at all.
  • If you’re not a fan of raisins, just leave them out or substitute dried cranberries, cherries, or blueberries instead.


Click here for printable version.

16 comments:

Liz C said...

I am *so* making your version this year!

The Duo Dishes said...

This is so easy easy. We should've made one! The cranberry version sounds really great.

Ninette Enrique said...

I don't like Irish soda bread, but your blog entry may have changed my mind!

Coleen's Recipes said...

I love baking bread and your artisan breads are beautiful!!

Hayley said...

I made Irish soda bread myself yesterday, too. Your cranberry and brown sugar variation sounds wonderful. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Sandie said...

Happy St. Patrick's Day, Sandy! You're Irish soda bread looks fantastic!

Luana said...

I made this today and it turned out great. I did everything in the KitchenAid, and it was ready to bake in about 5 minutes. So easy and it tastes wonderful. Thanks!

Jean said...

I made this soda bread yesterday and it was GREAT! I'm usually not very good at baking, but this was simple and delish! I even made a second one today with nuts and dried fruit

Sandy Smith said...

~Luana and Jean: Terrific!! I am so delighted to hear that the bread came out well for you! Thanks for taking the time to let me know. :)
Cheers,
Sandy

Sandy Smith said...

Thanks for your kind compliments, everyone! You guys are the best. :)

Cheers,
Sandy

Elyse said...

Your bread looks so great!! I love how versatile Irish Soda Bread is. And man, when you describe it as a giant scone, well, that just makes me want a loaf all the more!

ourlifeinfood said...

I made this bread for St. Patrick's Day this year, and we loved it! Thanks!

Sheri said...

Oh, Yum, Yum, YUM!!!!!

cathycicek82 said...

OMG Amazing bread. Thank you so much for sharing this great recipe.

Alex said...

This was my 5th attempt to make soda bread as I am making my own butter from double cream and which leaves me with plenty of buttermilk. The other recipes I tried were ok, but this one blew me away. Spot on ingredients, perfect looking bread and excellent taste. Thanks for sharing

TutorMommy said...

Two years after you posted it, but still delicious! I made your soda bread today and it is yummy. I'm notorious for altering recipes one way or another, but I liked your ingredient choices as-is.

The only problem? I can't stop eating it!

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