Classic Irish Soda Bread

March 11, 2020

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What would St. Patrick’s Day be without some Classic Irish Soda Bread? I’ve got a great recipe for to share with you today that will tell you how to bake up a gorgeous golden brown loaf with a fabulous, crisp craggy crust and a dense yet moist center. Perfect to serve along with your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

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Soda bread does not utilize yeast as a leavening agent, so there is no rising time required. It is the carbon dioxide which is produced from the reaction of buttermilk and baking soda that lightens the loaf. That being said, it is so very easy to make. You can literally mix it together in no time flat. And a loaf of Irish soda bread just would not be complete without having that cross cut into the top. I’ve heard various reasons as to why you do this. Some say it helps the bread cook evenly. I’ve also heard it is done as a blessing to keep the devil away. My favourite reason is that you cut a cross in to allow the fairies to escape! Your guess is as good as mine as to what they were doing in there in the first place, but there you have it.

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Around St. Patrick’s Day, here in the States you will often find stores carrying a sweet Irish soda bread which is shot through with raisins and has sugar sprinkled over the top. I definitely like that version. When I first started this blog I did share a recipe for just such a sweet soda bread loaf.

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Yum right? However, there is one incarnation of this bread that I do not care for. Sometime folks add those dreaded caraway seeds to the loaf along with the currents or raisins. OMG – I REALLY dislike it when those little demon seeds are added into the mix. I’ve been told that both the raisins and caraway seeds are a more Americanized versions of soda bread. The recipe I’m sharing today for Classic Irish Soda bread is closer to what you would actually find in Ireland. It has one cup of cake flour in addition to the all purpose flour because Irish flour is more finely milled than the all purpose flour found here in the States. This bread is only slightly sweet and has a sprinkling of sea salt flakes over the top. The crust is crispy crunchy with a nice chew to it. This bread is simply amazing slathered with butter – like Kerry Gold for instance. So what are you waiting for? Bake up a loaf or two of this Classic Soda Bread for St. Patrick’s Day this year. I promise you won’t regret it.

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Classic Irish Soda Bread

recipe from: Brown Eyed Baker

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • teaspoons baking soda
  • teaspoons cream of tartar
  • teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter softened
  • cups buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter melted

Directions:

Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and preheat oven to 400° F.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Work the softened butter into the dry ingredients with a fork or your fingertips until the texture resembles coarse crumbs.
Add the buttermilk and stir with a fork just until the dough begins to come together. Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead just until the dough becomes cohesive and bumpy, 12 to 14 turns. (Do not knead until the dough is smooth, or the bread will turn out tough.)
Pat the dough into a round about 6 inches in diameter and 2 inches high; place on a parchment-lined baking sheet or in a 12-inch cast iron skillet. Score the dough by cutting a cross shape on the top of the loaf.
Bake until the loaf is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, or the internal temperature reaches 180° F on an instead-read thermometer, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the loaf from the oven and brush the surface with the melted butter and sprinkle with flaked sea salt if desired. Cool to room temperature before slicing, about 30 to 40 minutes. Leftovers should be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Enjoy!
Classic Irish Soda Bread brought to you today by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)
Useful links for Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Classic Irish Soda Bread:
Maldon Sea Salt Flakes
Thermapen Instant Read Thermometer by Thermoworks
Silicone Pastry Brush Set

Irish Cheddar and Bacon Soda Bread

March 12, 2015

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Here it is, only five days away from the big day…St. Patrick’s Day. So I figure that it’s time for some more Soda Bread folks! And today the Soda Bread I’m talking about is made even more fabulous…if that is possible, by the addition of some scallions, chunks of tangy Irish cheddar and wonderful, glorious Bacon! You can’t go wrong with bacon!

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Way back on the mere second day of this years St. Patrick’s Day blog-a-thon, I told you about Irish Soda Bread Muffins. Those slightly sweet, currant filled muffins are great for breakfast or perfect with a cup of tea in the afternoon. This savory soda bread is different. I don’t really see it as a tea time snack, but more of a tasty accompaniment to Irish Stews or Corned Beef and Cabbage. But it would make for a brilliant breakfast. Imagine a thick craggy slice of this bacon and cheese filled bread, slathered with butter and topped with a fried egg! Are you getting the picture! As with all soda bread, it is quick and easy to make. And yes, I admit, this Irish Cheddar and Bacon Soda Bread, like my Irish Soda Bread Muffins is not traditional. But I don’t think you’ll give one fig about that while you’re devouring slice after slice…

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Irish Cheddar and Bacon Soda Bread

  • Servings: 1 loaf of bread
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe slightly adapted from: Jessica Gavin

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup King Arthur Irish Wholemeal flour (can sub. in Wholemeal Flour)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2 ounces sharp Irish cheddar, cut into ¼ inch cubes
  • 4 slices cooked bacon, chopped
  • 2 green onions, washed and cut into thin slices green part only
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • melted butter to paint top of bread, Maldon smoked flaky sea salt for sprinkling

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, sprinkle a small amount of flour onto the sheet where you will be placing the bread.

Cook the bacon over medium heat in a sauté pan until crispy on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Cool, chop and reserve the bacon.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, black pepper and sugar, whisk together until combined. Add to the dry mixture the cheddar, bacon and green onions, combine together. Add the buttermilk to the flour mixture, mixing until combined. Knead for 1-2 minutes, until the dough is hydrated and holds together.

Form dough into a round loaf and transfer to the floured parchment paper lined baking sheet. Cut a cross into the top of the dough, about ½ inch deep. Brush the top of dough with melted butter and sprinkle with Maldon flaky sea salt. (use the smoked sea salt if you can find it.) Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until the soda bread is lightly browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom of the loaf. Serve warm!

Enjoy!

Irish Cheddar and Bacon Soda Bread brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

 


Irish Soda Bread Muffins

March 2, 2015

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Yes indeed-y…Day Two of the St. Patrick’s Day count down and today I’m featuring Irish Soda Bread Muffins. Now before you folks in Ireland sneak a peek at the ingredients and start shaking your head, raising your eyebrow and getting a bit huffy…let me explain. I didn’t actually say “traditional Irish Soda Bread” Muffins. I openly admit, these muffins are a departure from “traditional” Irish Soda Bread. Traditional Irish Soda bread is a quick bread, meaning it uses baking soda as a leavener rather than yeast. The only other ingredients involved are flour, either whole meal, used for the every-day, or white, which was used for special occasions, buttermilk and salt. That’s it! Back in the day, currants were a luxury item which again might have been used along with a bit of sugar or an egg if the bread was being made for a special occasion, but not on a daily basis.

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Soda bread was traditionally cooked in a lidded cast iron pan which was placed directly on the coals of a fire. Irish immigrants brought the recipe for this bread with them when they came to America. This is the point where things begin to change, or I suppose you could say evolved if you had a friendly eye to the changes. Clever folks are quick to adapt to new situations and that is just what these immigrants did. Finding themselves in a new land where the availability and cost of ingredients were very different from what they had found at home, they had to improvise. And these modifications were often reflected in the dishes that were cooked. That is why an Irish-American might have a very different idea of what “traditional Irish” food is. Soda Bread is a great example of that phenomena, as is Corned Beef (shock…horror…but more on that later). I love traditional Irish Soda Bread and make it myself all the time. I also like the thoroughly Americanized versions, for the most part…. (Cue the ominous sounding music here)

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Once in America the flour used in soda bread became almost exclusively white, butter was not only slathered over the slices of bread but was also added into the dough, as was sugar, eggs, raisins and often caraway seeds. I have to stop right here and say that while I’m ok with all of the other modifications to this bread, I HATE caraway seeds in my soda bread. I’m actually glad you can’t see the face I’m making right now, but it is a cross between disgust and outrage. Wait…perhaps I do have a picture that I can share that will convey my feelings adequately…

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Me upon finding out there are caraway seeds in my soda bread. Should I be troubled that this is one of the husband’s favorite pics of me?!!

I’m serious, I don’t know how folks could ruin perfectly good bread with those dastardly little seeds. Just say NO! Ahem…So back to these lovely Americanized Irish Soda Bread Muffins we have here. Gone is the big round soda bread loaf, replaced with perfect serving sized muffins. Needless to say, there are no caraway seeds, but there are Irish Whiskey plumped currants, as well as a blend of All-purpose flour and King Arthur Irish Wholemeal flour, which gives them a pleasant toothsome texture over those made with white flour alone. Though if you don’t have Irish Wholemeal flour, you could use regular whole meal flour, or just use 2 1/4 cups of all-purpose in a pinch. The muffins are just perfect with a nice cup of tea, moist, tender, slightly sweet, but not too sweet. Just enough to satisfy any tea time cravings. They are delicious all on their own, with a bit of jam spread over the top, or my favourite…covered with lashings of butter! Certainly a crowd pleaser for your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

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Irish Soda Bread Muffins

  • Servings: 12 Muffins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe slightly adapted from: King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups (6 1/4 ounces, 177 grams)  All purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces, 85 grams) King Arthur Irish Wholemeal flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup (2 5/8 ounces, 74 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces, 170 grams) currants (first choice) or raisins
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup (8 ounces, 227 grams) buttermilk yogurt, or sour cream
  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces, 85 grams) butter, melted; or 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • sparkling white sugar, for topping

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a standard muffin pan; or line with papers, and grease the papers.

Place currants/raisins in bowl and cover with boiling water, adding 1 tablespoon irish whiskey to the mix if you’re feeling a bit devilish. Let raisins steep for about 10 minutes to plump. Thoroughly drain before incorporating into the batter.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk (or equivalent) and melted butter (or equivalent).

Quickly and gently combine the dry and wet ingredients; honestly, this won’t take more than a few stirs with a bowl scraper or large spoon. As soon as everything is evenly moistened, quickly and gently fold in the plumped currants or raisins and then quit; further stirring will cause the muffins to be tough.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, filling the cups about 3/4 full; the stiff batter will look mounded in the cups. Top with sparkling white sugar, if desired.

Bake the muffins for 20 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove them from the oven. Tip the muffins in the pan, so their bottoms don’t get soggy. Wait 5 minutes, then transfer the muffins to a rack to cool. Serve them plain, or with butter and/or jam.

Enjoy!

Irish Soda Bread Muffins brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)


Irish Onion Soup with Irish Cheddar Soda Bread Croutons

March 6, 2014

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I don’t know how the weather is in your neck of the woods, but around here there is really no sign of Spring. That groundhog varmint was right and we have been firmly in the grip of an arctic vortex with temperatures lower than they have any right to go here in the supposed southern state of Virginia. The latest go round of snow and frigid temps really had me craving a big bowl of French Onion soup. But since St. Patrick’s Day is nigh, I decided to Irish it up a bit. Just how do you do that you might ask. Well, how about adding in a splash or two of Irish Whiskey (you know my brand by now right – Jameson’s) and a glug or so of Irish Stout.

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This is where I’m going to get a little tricky on you though. I know a veritable river of Guinness has been flowing out of my kitchen lately. It is the Irish stout that is most widely known and I’m a fan. However, I went to college in Cork, Ireland and in that part of the country, Guinness is not King. Murphy’s Irish Stout– aka The Rebel Stout holds court there. You see Murphy’s Stout is similar to Guinness but a bit less heavy and with fewer bitter notes. It has been brewed in Cork since 1856. Why is it called “The Rebel Stout”? That has to do with its County Cork origins. Historically, Cork has been known as the Rebel County, a name it acquired due to the prominent role it played in the Irish War of Independence (1919-21) as well as the fact that it was an anti-treaty stronghold during the Irish Civil War (1922-23). Murphy’s Irish Stout is widely distributed outside of Ireland and you could likely easily find it at your local grocery, especially this close to St. Patrick’s Day. Next time you see it, grab some and give it a taste. You could even do a stout tasting with Guinness, Murphy’s and a few of your local brews. Sounds like fun huh? But I guess I should get back to this soup. Having spent all that time in Cork, I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t give Murphy’s a shout out.

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I used it for this Irish Onion soup and I couldn’t have been more pleased! The malty notes from the Murphy’s Irish Stout gave this soup quite a rich and deep flavour. Yet, it still wasn’t quite Irish-y enough for me. So instead of topping my onion soup with the usual toasted french baguette slice, I baked up some mini Irish soda bread loaves which I split in half and used in lieu of the french standard.

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Topped with grated Kerrygold Cheddar Cheese, you have a crouton worthy of this hearty Irish Onion Soup. guaranteed to warm you on the most polar vortex-y of days.

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Irish Onion Soup

recipe adapted from: The Fox & She

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 medium yellow onions, sliced in rings
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/3 cup Irish Whiskey (Jameson!)
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • Pinch kosher salt, plus 2 teaspoons
  • 1 cup Stout Beer, Murphys or Guinness
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 12 cups beef stock
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Thick slices Irish Soda Bread (recipe to follow)
  • grated Irish Cheddar Cheese

Directions:

In a heavy bottomed pan, melt the butter, cook onions over medium to medium-low heat for 1 hour, stirring every so often.

Add whiskey, flour and pinch of salt. Cook for 4 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic, cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Add Murphy’s (or Guinness) and simmer until reduced by 1/3, about 5 minutes.

Add broth, thyme, pepper and remaining salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Remove thyme sprigs.

Ladle into oven safe bowl and top with 1/2 of mini soda bread loaf and grated irish cheddar. Place under the broiler until cheese is bubbly and toast is browned. Be Careful! Some broiler are nuclear hot and will burn everything to a cinder if you turn your back for a second! (If you can’t do the broiler thing, just toast the soda bread, melt cheese over the top and then add to irish soup.)

Mini Irish Soda Breads

recipe adapted from: King Arthur Flour

yield: 6 mini loaves

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) King Arthur Irish-Style Wholemeal Flour (9 3/4 ounces) *
  • 1 1/4 cups (5 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
  • 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 ounces) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick, 2 ounces) cold butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 1/3 cups (10 5/8 ounces) buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • flaked sea salt
  • melted salted butter to brush top of loaves

Directions:

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking soda and salt. Using a mixer, a pastry fork or blender, or your fingers, cut in the butter until it is evenly distributed and no large chunks remain.

In a separate bowl (or in a measuring cup) whisk together the buttermilk and egg. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients and mix to combine. The dough will be stiff; if it’s too crumbly to squeeze together, add another tablespoon or two of buttermilk.

Knead the dough a couple of times to make sure it’s holding together. If you are making individual mini loaves, divide into 6 equal sized pieces. ( 5 ounces each).  Shape each it into a ball. Flatten the ball slightly, and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Use a sharp knife to cut a cross, extending all the way to the edges, atop each loaf.

Bake the bread in a preheated 400°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until it’s golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the bread from the oven, and brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle with flaked sea salt.

Enjoy!

* If you don’t have time to order your King Arthur Irish-Style Wholemeal Flour and you aren’t in Ireland with immediate access to Irish Wholemeal Flour, you can substitute in 10 ounces of King Arthur 100% White Whole Wheat Flour

**Recipe will also make 1 large loaf of Irish Soda Bread if you would rather not be bothered with the mini loaves 🙂


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