07 March 2013

Irish Brown Bread - Irish Soda Bread


I love it when my readers send in requests. Lana of Life at Wildberry Cottage left the following comment on my Buttermilk Biscuits post: "Recipe looks easy, and I agree with you about the organic ingredients. With St. Patrick's Day coming up next month, would you have a recipe for Irish soda bread that does not come out dry? I have tried many recipes that fall short."

It had been a long time since I'd made it, so I had to dig through a few boxes to find the recipe I'd developed years ago. Like Lana, I don't like soda bread that's overly dry and crumbly. I hope she--and you--will find my recipe to your liking. Do let me know! Keep in mind that this is a bread best eaten on the day it's made or toasted the next day.

Since I'm not Irish (though Danny Boy always makes me cry!), I make no claims about "authenticity." But this does taste very much like the bread served at a nearby Irish pub. Some purists would object, I'm sure, to the brown sugar, the butter or the egg--or all three. But I think one or all of those might be the very things that give this loaf the texture I like. It's the perfect accompaniment to soups and stews.


Irish Brown Soda Bread

2 1/2 cups (12.5 ounces) stone ground whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups (7.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 to 1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1 large egg
1 3/4 cups buttermilk

1 Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put a 12-inch square of parchment paper on baking sheet.

2 In large bowl, whisk together flours, brown sugar, salt and baking soda. With fingers, rub butter into flour mixture. In 2-cup glass measure, beat egg and add buttermilk (about 1 3/4 cups) to the 2-cup line.

3 Make a well in center of flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk mixture. Slowly bring the flour mixture into the liquid. Stir gently to combine into a slightly sticky dough that can be formed into a ball. Knead lightly, right in the bowl, not more than 5 or 6 times, forming into a ball.

4 Place ball of dough on parchment-lined baking sheet. Dough should (but may not) be of a consistency to flatten itself just slightly. Press it down a bit to a diameter of roughly 6 1/2 to 7 inches and a height of about 2 to 2 1/2 inches. With sharp knife, cut a 1/4-inch deep "+" on top of dough (helps the bread to cook through and not have a doughy middle).

5 Bake at 400 degrees for about 50 minutes, or until it tests done. I do two tests: 1. stick a toothpick in the center and see if it comes out clean and 2. tap it on the bottom and see if it sounds hollow. To cool, place the loaf on a wire rack and cover it with a clean kitchen towel. Cool completely, 2 to 3 hours, before slicing, or it may be too crumbly and not hold together well.

Note: For breakfast, serve with butter (such as, Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter) and marmalade. For dinner, serve with butter. For appetizers, spread with butter and top with smoked salmon or prosciutto (I use Applegate).

28 comments:

Southerner said...

Jean, absolutely love the stuff. Great for the digestive system and tasty too!!! ha! ha! Tony

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thanks, Tony! Do you put an egg, butter and/or brown sugar in yours?

Southerner said...

Ah Jean,sadly I don't make soda bread myself, but London has a large Irish community in South London, mostly around Wandsworth,which is not far from where I live. A large proportion of local building firms in London are Irish. Most bakers near me sell soda bread. The supermarkets sell their versions too.

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Not the case here. If you want soda bread, you need to go to an Irish pub or make it yourself. It's so easy, though, you should give it a go!

Richard Sheppard said...

My wife just mentioned a few days ago that she wanted to make Irish Soda Bread for St. Patty's Day and voila! here's a great recipe. I told here I'd make a beef stew, which I have also used your recipe for so I think we're set. Now I just need to get myself some Guinness!

Unknown said...

Baking soda is the only leavening. So hence the name I'm guessing. I've never had it before. GREG

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Richard, that's great! Let me know you guys like it!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Greg, you guessed it! And since your name/link thing isn't showing for some reason, I'm going to add it here so people can find your wonderful blog: http://www.sippitysup.com/

Jenn said...

Jean, you have once again amazed me!! I adore Irish brown bread and have considered making it numerous times and have talked myself out of making it each time. I think you may have just inspired me!!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Jenn, thank you! I love hearing that I've inspired you! Hope you'll make it very soon.

Beth said...

Your loaf looks terrific. You're right - the ingredients are a bit unusual, but if that makes it work, all the better!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thanks, Beth. My husband even liked it more than he expected to, since he loves yeast bread so much.

LANA said...

Wow - that looks divine! And I won't feel so guilty eating it since it has wholesome ingredients. I'm not Irish either, but I sure love to celebrate! Thanks for answering my request!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Lana, you are so welcome! And thank *you* for the suggestion!

Thomas "Sully" Sullivan said...

This may be why my particular Sullivan clan got kicked out of Ireland. Never mind that someone crossed the isle – aisle – and married on the protestant side, forever ending our association with Rome and vice versa (and, of course, there was a little matter of the murder of a priest – the Church can be so UNforgiving)! I have the real story now. Dry soda bread. Right there on Delightful Repast. This explains why I hate dry bread – most breads – and why if I do get something soft and moist in the bread line…um, line of bread, I mean…I slather it with butter. Thanks for the tips, Jeani. Those three alien ingredients are probably just the thing, as you said. Everything Irish needs a little bit of rebel in it!

Yenta Mary said...

That looks very similar to my recipe for soda bread, which is as authentic as I can make it without actually being able to purchase my ingredients in Ireland. I once read that our whole grain flours are the closest to Irish ones, and that they're preferred for soda bread. Of course, I wouldn't expect any less of you than a fabulous recipe and ingredients such as these ... :)

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Oh, aye ... a little bit of rebel ... that would be ME! (You must tell me about that priest sometime!)

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thank you, Mary! I haven't tried the Irish flour, I always buy Bob's Red Mill.

Charles said...

Hi Jean,

I've never had a problem with my soda breads coming out dry, but damn if they don't go dry fast. Like you say - eat on the day, or for toast the next. Given the size of the thing it's often only worth making if you're expecting a small regiment over for tea, at least for me... family of two + baby (who is a wee bit too young for soda bread right now, hehe).

I should post my recipe sometime - I'd fear getting smacked by my purist Irish colleagues though. Mine has no buttermilk - I've had to adapt it a great deal since buttermilk isn't commonly available (that I've seen) in France. Your love looks lovely though - perfect shape and texture and I bet it's wonderful straight out of the oven. I love soda bread... along with potato bread it's one of my absolute favourites!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thank you, Charles! When I don't have buttermilk on hand, I've often used milk to which vinegar or lemon juice has been added. But I've not had occasion to try that out on the brown bread or soda bread. I'll look forward to your version.

Julia | JuliasAlbum.com said...

Amazing looking bread, and I don't see yeast in the ingredients, which is good, because I haven't really baked much with yeast.

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Julia, thanks! You're right - no yeast, the only leavener is the one teaspoon of baking soda (also called bicarbonate of soda).

Richard Sheppard said...

Hi Jean, Well my wife and I made this for St. Patty's day and it was soooooo good! I absolutely loved it. We ate as much as we could and then I sliced and froze the rest. Perfect for toasting.

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Richard, thanks so much! I'm really glad you liked it!

Abigail Rogers said...

Oh, I love Irish Soda Bread! Yes, it does usually come out a little dry when I make it, but the flavor--though subtle--is so delicious. The perfect thing for St. Patrick's Day :)

-Abigail
www.PictureBritain.com

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Abigail, thanks! I think you'll find this one a little less dry than most.

kitty@ Kitty's Kozy Kitchen said...

I'd love to try this! When my late beloved hubby and I visited Ireland, we had the best brown bread. It was so grainy and wonderful.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Kitty, sorry of course that your beloved is no longer with you, but so glad you have wonderful memories of good times together to sustain you. I hope this recipe will come close to the breads you remember.

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