Quick, easy and very Irish, this Irish Soda Bread recipe is a long-honored house specialty at The Caldwell House Bed & Breakfast in Salisbury Mills, New York, and a festive way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day all month long. Take a piece, or two, before a little leprechaun comes around and eats the whole thing!
This bread is wonderful for St. Patrick’s Day, but is also good to serve any time of year for breakfast or as a snack. I like to serve it warm topped with plain butter, but you can also simply eat it alone, or toasted with some triple crème brie and a drizzle of truffle honey for something truly decadent.
Traditional Irish soda bread does not have dried fruit in it, although if you wish, you may add some to this recipe. This is Robert Ditty's recipe; he's widely regarded as the best baker in all of Ireland. His bakery is located in the town of Castledawson in Londonderry.
In the early 1800s, the Irish typically made due without a lot of the luxuries the rest of Europe enjoyed. One of them was yeast. Being the resourceful type, though, Irish bread makers relied on baking soda as a leavening agent and combined it with flour, buttermilk, and salt to create soda bread in cast-iron pots. With additions like butter, sugar, currants, and seeds, our version is what some traditional Irish folk might call railway cake, but we call it our soda bread with a sweet ending.
In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day and pairing delicious beer with classic Irish fare, this Samuel Adams Irish Red beer-infused Irish Soda Bread is a proverbial pot of gold that perfectly combines both. This recipe comes courtesy of a small business owner in the Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream* micro-loan program, Sandy Russo of LuLu’s Sweet Shoppe in Boston – one of the most Irish cities in America.
A favorite Irish recipe, soda bread lends itself to a more hearty and wholesome bread than a traditional yeast bread. Growing up in my house, soda bread was simple and straight forward with no fruit of any kind and usually had wheat and/or oats. I do not oppose the addition of fruit. Sometimes I think it works, especially if eaten with great Irish butter. I remember traditional soda bread being slightly bitter, so I wanted to add millet for the sweet cereal flavor it imparts, yet keep that heartiness with the addition of brown rice flour and flaxseed meal. Flaxmeal also creates this wonderful gel, which aids in building structure in gluten-free bread as well as adding omega-3 amino acids. I tried to make this bread without the use of any gums, but to no avail.
Though it looks complicated, this recipe is delicious! And remember, for best results, make this recipe using a scale.
Click here to see The Science Behind Soda Bread story.
Irish housewives in earlier times eschewed yeast as a leavening agent. Instead, they used soda to encourage bread to rise and that is where we get the name "soda bread." Even a first-time cook will have success baking soda bread; it is that simple to make. Eat it at breakfast or dinner or with a hot cup of tea. Pack it in lunches with goat cheese and fresh sliced tomato for an interesting partnering of flavors.Click here for more St. Patrick's Day recipes.