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March 16, 2018

Shamrocks and Soda Bread

Shamrocks and Soda Bread

You don’t have to be Irish to celebrate the Feast of St. Patrick. We enjoy any holiday that has the acumen to include the word Feast in it’s name!

There are lots of food options you can choose to celebrate this holiday including Irish Bacon and Cabbage (or corned beef and cabbage if you want to remember a time when bacon was too expensive for many families in Ireland), Shepherd’s Pie, Irish Lamb Stew, Bangers and Mash, or maybe Colcannon, among a long list of other potato dishes. But none of them will be complete without a side of warm Irish Soda Bread!

Macroom FlourThe best Soda Bread is rumored to be made only in Ireland, of course. This has to do with the Macroom Flour that has a long standing tradition there. Macroom Flour starts with Macroom Oats that are toasted on cast iron plates for two days before being dehulled and then stone ground in old stone mills that have been around since the 1800's. Ireland's Soda Bread being better may also have to do with the weather in Ireland and maybe a splash or two of Guinness beer that may or may not get snuck into a few recipes. But, if jumping on a last minute flight to Ireland is out of your reach, we suggest you throw on a green apron and give baking Soda Bread at home a try.

Every soda bread is completely different. The following recipe is not a traditional Irish Soda Bread because it contains egg, but we won't tell if you won't! Regular all purpose flour will do for our purposes here and no matter the ingredients, the process of making soda bread is the same.

This recipe is originally from AllRecipes and contains the highest ratings. We read through all the comments and added in the steps that most people agree improved the recipe.  And for any curious minds out there who would like more information on Ireland's famed Soda Bread, I've added a couple of links at the bottom that I found interesting.

Happy Baking!


AllRecipes Amazingly Easy Irish Soda Bread (slightly modified)

  • 4 cups all purpose flour (or whole wheat flour)

  • 4 Tbsp white sugar

  • 1 Tbsp baking soda

  • 1 Tbsp baking powder

  • ½ tsp salt

  • ½ tsp butter

  • 1 cup buttermilk

  • 1 egg

  • ¼ cup butter, melted

  • ¼ cup buttermilk

  • (additional options: add some caraway seeds, a little honey and raisins for a sweeter bread, often referred to in Ireland as Spotted Dog; or add a variety of herbs, green onions and a little sharp cheese for a more savory variety.)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a large baking sheet (or instead use a baking stone). In Ireland kneading the dough is an art and the goal is to not over mix. With this recipe you can use a mixer (or be prepared to do some kneading) but don’t worry too much about over mixing this recipe.

  2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and margarine. Stir in 1 cup of buttermilk and egg. Add optional items at this time if using any. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly. Form dough into a round and place on prepared baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine melted butter with 1/4 cup buttermilk; brush loaf with this mixture once before it bakes and periodically throughout the baking process. Use a sharp knife to cut an 'X' into the top of the loaf (to let the fairies out!).

  3. Bake in preheated oven for about 50 minutes. Baste the top with the butter and buttermilk mixture several times during baking. If you would like a more sweet variety, you can also sprinkle a little sugar on the top of the loaf. Check for doneness after 40 minutes by inserting a toothpick into the center of the loaf until it comes out clean. This Soda Bread is delicious when warm but can dry out quickly so keep it covered. It also makes great toast tomorrow morning!

Link to the original AllRecipes Amazingly Easy Soda Bread recipe here and also where you'll find lots of other amazing Irish recipe suggestions. 

Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread

Secrets of the Soda Bread Masters by BBC Travel


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