Irish Soda Bread—it’s Not Just for St. Patrick’s Day

Irish Soda Bread—it’s Not Just for St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is just a week away, not that I’m Irish, (literally it is not in our family’s DNA). Still, St. Patrick’s day was always a big deal at our home growing up. Trying to get some green on before someone pinched you was job one. Then after that is was eating green food all day long.

Green cake, green cookies, green milk, green cream of wheat. Yuck! Just about everything except for green eggs and ham and that only because mom didn’t figure out how to make them green too.

So as an adult, I learned to make some real Irish food to celebrate Éire go Brách(Ireland forever). Things like corned beef, red potatoes, and cabbage or Irish stew with Soda BreadIf you want to do the same, you can find plenty of help online,  but trying to find a real sourdough soda bread, it might be a bit harder.

So here is our take on this traditional bread.

Irish Soda Bread

Sourdough Irish soda bread for Sunday dinner—my daughter insisted the crust was made from graham crackers. Yum!

Ingredients

Instructions

  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour (or substitute ½ cup with freshly milled whole wheat)
  • 1 cup sourdough starter (active or dormant, either works fine)
  • 1 cup cream (or milk and 4 Tbls melted butter added)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup dried currants (or raisins)
  • zest of an orange
  • 3 Tbls honey or brown sugar
    (Recipe adapted from the Moses Family Table)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C)
  2. Sift flour, salt, and baking soda together in a mixing bowl.
  3. Stir in dried currants.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together honey, orange zest and cream (or milk and butter) with the sourdough starter.
  5. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, but stir until just combined.
  6. Form dough into a ball
  7. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the dough on it.
  8. Slash in the top with a sharp knife and place it into the preheated oven.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden brown and a testing skewer comes out clean when inserted.
  10. Let cool a bit before slicing or cutting into wedges, which is quite traditional. And don’t forget to insert a lucky coin into the bottom of the loaf before slicing—you know, for the luck of the Irish.

This bread is traditionally made with sour milk or buttermilk, but the lactic acid in a sourdough start reacts with the baking soda just as well. This forms tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide leading to a very quick rise in the loaf. Other ingredients can be added too. Things like butter and eggs will enrich the dough. Raisins, currents or nuts may also be added depending on your likes, but most recipes call for some dried fruit.

The advantage of making this “quick bread” is that the labor of traditional bread making can be skipped for a fast and reliable loaf every time. However, without a long-ferment, many of the advantages of traditional sourdough will not be realized.  

Good and simple you may find yourself using this recipe again and again. It works for well for muffins, baked in a loaf pan as a sweet bread and of course, as a traditional boule. And best of all it will be a great excuse to use any extra sourdough starter that you intend to discard, (which actually seems silly to me when you can make waffles and pancakes with sourdough discard every day of the week). That makes this recipe your no-excuse-to-use-the-extra-starter-bread ever again. 

Tell us how you used sourdough in your St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the comment section below.


Author: Darryl Alder, is a retired Scouter and outdoorsman, who spent too many hours over a campfire using a dutch oven, and loves sharing recipes for the kitchen and the campfire. You can read many of his outdoor recipes here and nearly every Saturday here on this blog.

 

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