recipe : Irish soda bread
It’s the most wonderful time of the year – at least for the Irish among us. Happy Saint Patrick’s Week, everyone! We actually enjoy this holiday for more than drinking Guinness and green beer (though don’t get us wrong, that’s pretty fun, too).
One of us is pretty Irish, and growing up, her family would always gather for a big meal on Saint Patrick’s Day. The table groaned with the works : corned beef (especially delicious the next day, in sandwiches), cabbage, potatoes – always, always potatoes -, the frothy mugs of Guinness for adults, and perhaps the best and most delicious part of the meal : the soda bread.
Soda bread takes some getting used to. It’s dense, not a light, fluffy creation used to sop up sauces or soups. It makes sense when you think about its history. A traditional meal in the poorer areas of Ireland, soda bread is only made with the most basic of ingredients. No fancy, artisan toast here.
Before you bake, traditionally you cut a cross on the top of the loaf – thereby warding off the devil, and protecting the household. The finished product is a bread that produces thick, hearty slices – the kind of stick-to-you breakfast food good for farmers and shepherds about to spend the day in the fields. Or for the rest of us, as an annual treat.
We adapted our recipe from the Bon Appetit brown butter soda bread – it’s easy, quick to make, and, most importantly, tastes really good.
Brown Butter Irish Soda Bread
Makes two loaves
1/4 cup unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 3/4 cups milk (or buttermilk)
1 cup currants
1 egg white, beaten
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Brown the butter in a small saucepan (takes about three minutes). Set aside.
Mix dry ingredients together. Pour the milk and butter over the dry ingredients and lightly bring the dough together with a fork.
Add currants and lightly mix. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface.
Knead until dough fully comes together. Separate into two six-inch rounds and flatten. Brush the tops with egg white, sprinkle lightly with ground black pepper. If desired, carve an “X” into the top of each loaf.
Bake until golden brown and a tester comes out of the center clean, 40-45 minutes. Let cool – and enjoy!
Soda bread is good with lots of butter, or pretty much any condiment you’d like to slather on top. We prefer ours with orange marmalade.