Oh ya’ll! I have a confession to make…I love bread. No – I mean I LOOOVE bread. I love to bake it and I especially love to eat it! (South Beach be damned!!!) And I really love traditional Irish Brown Bread and Soda Bread. Can.not.get.enough! But this Orange-Cranberry Soda Bread with White Chocolate has quite possibly risen above any soda bread I’ve had the pleasure of scarfing down.
Now I visited Ireland back in October of last year and I assure you I was eating all of the bread that came my way. Yesterday I told you about the lovely town of Trim. Today, I’ve got to tell you all about our visit to Brú na Bóinne, translated Valley of the Boyne, a short drive away from Trim. This World Heritage Site, located in a bend of the River Boyne, is over 5,000 years old. Older than the pyramids! It is most famous for the spectacular Megalithic Passage Graves of Knowth, Newgrange and Dowth. These ceremonial structures are among the most important neolithic sites in the world and contain the largest selection of Neolithic art in Western Europe.
I had visited when I was in college, but now there is a fantastic interpretive center in which you can learn about Neolithic culture and the monuments before boarding a shuttle bus for a tour. Knowth has an unrivaled collection of megalithic art.
You can actually go inside Newgrange! You walk down a narrow passage way (good thing I went down this passage way on the second day of our visit. By the end of the holiday, after all the bread and pints, I may not have been able to squeeze down it!) and into the burial chamber, which has the original waterproof corbelled roof. Each year on December 21st (Winter Solstice) a single shaft of light from the rising sun enters the roof box above the door and travels down the passage way to light up the chamber. Truly extraordinary! Make sure you book tickets when you visit.
But let me get back to today’s featured recipe: Orange-Cranberry Soda Bread with White Chocolate.
Now, I know this is not traditional Irish Soda Bread, but whoo howdy, this bread would likely stop St. Patrick in his tracks!
It is sweet, shot through with white chocolate chips, orange zest and tangy cranberries, yet it’s not too sweet. It is hearty, with a little tooth from that Irish style flour, but still has a tender crumb.
And toasted with a smear of butter? Get out!!!
Orange-Cranberry Soda Bread with White Chocolate
recipe very slightly adapted from: Christopher Kimball’s 177 Milk Street
- 210 grams (1 1/2 cups) Dried Cranberries, roughly chopped
- 1 Tablespoon grated Orange zest, plus 2 Tablespoons Orange juice
- 1 3/4 Cups Buttermilk
- 325 grams (2 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 105 grams (3/4 cup) King Arthur Baking Irish style Flour
- (can sub in whole wheat flour if you prefer)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 113 grams (4 ounces) white chocolate chips
- 2 Tablespoons melted butter to brush over the top of loaf before baking
- White sparkling sugar (optional)
Place the rack in the middle position in your oven and preheat to 400F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment.
In a medium microwave-safe bowl, stir together the cranberries and orange juice. Microwave, uncovered, on high for 1 minute, stirring once halfway through. Stir again, then set aside until cooled to room temperature. In a liquid measuring cup, stir together the orange zest and buttermilk.
In a large bowl, whisk together both flours, the baking soda and salt. Add the cooled cranberries and the white chocolate; toss until the ingredients are evenly distributed. Make a well in the middle of the mixture and pour in the buttermilk. Using a silicone spatula, fold the buttermilk into the flour mixture until a rough, shaggy dough forms; it’s fine if the dough still shows some dry, floury patches.
Lightly flour the counter and turn the dough out onto it, then flour the top of the dough as well. This is a sticky dough!Using your hands and a metal bench scraper, gently and lightly fold the dough a few times just until cohesive; do not knead it. Flour your hands and using a light touch, shape the dough into a ball as best you can. With a bench scraper, loosen it from the counter, transfer it to the prepared baking sheet.
Cut a cross, about 3/4″ deep into the top of the bread. Paint the entire top of the loaf with melted butter. Sprinkle with sparkling sugar if desired.
Bake until the bread is a deep golden brown, about 35 -40 minutes. It should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet set upon a wire rack. Afterwards transfer bread to the rack to cool completely. Try your best to wait 1 whole hour before slicing!
Useful links for Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Orange Cranberry Soda Bread with White Chocolate:
King Arthur Baking Irish Style Flour – ideal for baking Ireland’s brown and soda breads.
Prepworks Progressive Pocket Zester
Travel Planning Guide:
Getting there: Icelandair! We love Icelandair and have always had great experience with them. Icelandair flies to Dublin, Ireland. Take advantage of their Stopover program on your next flight to Europe.
Car Rental: New Way Car Hire – Love the all-inclusive pricing on these cars as well as the Dublin Airport pickup!
Brú na Bóinne Visitor Center – All access to Newgrange and Knowth is by guided tour only, with tours beginning at the visitor center. Make sure to book in advance as tickets do often sell out! I highly recommend visiting. It was truly extraordinary!