Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Irish Brown Soda Bread

With St. Patrick's Day coming closer I am bringing you a "wee" bit of Ireland right in your home. 

As me and my husband live in Dublin (small side note: Dublin, California) it is difficult not being swept away with St. Patrick's Day festivities and day by day it is getting "greener" around us. Each year on the weekend before St. Patrick's Day our city organizes a parade and a festival which attracts people from all around our area. We enjoyed it a lot with the gorgeous weather we had, but let me tell you about the recipe ...

When I started searching for a brown soda bread recipe, I realized how many variations are out there. Most of the recipes I found contained either white, whole wheat flour, or a mixture of both, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk, but the ratios differed from recipe to recipe. There were also several recipes that added butter and/or sugar.  

I made my version entirely out of whole wheat flour instead of adding white flour, but it surprisingly retained a fairly light texture. The recipe I took is an adaption of a recipe by Monica Sheridan. I found a copy of her book in our local libary as it seems to be out of print. It is a lovely little book full of authentic Irish recipes. I guess, Monica Sheridan was not without a reason called the Julia Child of Ireland.

Soda breads are very fast to bake as they don't require any proofing time. Instead of yeast, baking soda and buttermilk are used to make the bread rise. The preparations and mixing up should not take longer than 5 minutes. 

Soda bread tastes great topped with a good (Irish) butter, marmalade, or cheese. You can also serve them with a soup or a stew. We ate the bread with Colcannon Soup which I will post later.

And now, Happy St. Patrick's Day to everybody!

Mix up the flour, salt, and baking soda. Then gradually mix in the buttermilk.
After the buttermilk is mixed in you should be left with a fairly sticky dough.
Form a ball.
Transfer the dough on a baking sheet or pizza peel.

With a knife make a deep cross from one side to the other.

Irish Brown Soda Bread
Recipe adapted from: The art of Irish Cooking by Monica Sheridan

Makes one loaf.


4 cups whole wheat flour, preferably stone-ground, plus some additional for dusting

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

2 cups buttermilk (can be more or less, depending on the flour you use)



Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a bowl mix together the flour, salt, and baking soda.

Make a well in the center and slowly pour in the buttermilk. At the same time start mixing up the flour with the buttermilk. You can either use a wooden spoon or your hands. 

Don't overmix, otherwise your bread will get too dense. Form a ball. If the dough is too sticky and difficult for you to manage, flour your hands lightly.

Now transfer the ball on a baking sheet which should be lightly dusted with flour or on a dusted pizza peel (if you want to bake it on a pizza stone). 

Flatten the ball out in a circle (thickness about 1 1/2 inches). With a knife make a deep cross (about 1 inch) from one side to the other. 

Bake the bread for 25 minutes, then  reduce the heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and bake for additional 15 minutes. 

Let the bread cool down before you cut it.

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