Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day and for one day, whether you truly have Irish roots or not, we are all Irish! St. Patrick’s Day, the day the Irish set aside to mark the passing of Ireland’s patron saint, started as a religious event and through out the years, it has also become a day to pay tribute to all things Irish–the culture, the people, AND the food! Irish food and drinks are well known–Corned Beef & Cabbage, Guinness Beer, Irish Stew, and this recipe–Soda Bread.
I have never been to Ireland. I have been very fortunate to have traveled to some amazing places around the world, mostly to entertain our armed forces or tag along with Charlie on a tour, but Ireland is the country that is on my and Charlie’s bucket list. I’m fascinated by it’s history and incredible beauty and it’s the only place Charlie has said that he would like to go. That alone is enough for me… he is a Kelley after all.
Now that I’ve espoused some Kelley love for Ireland, here’s a little backstory about this authentic Irish recipe. Last year at Nashville’s Music City Irish Fest, I met some wonderful ladies from Tourism Ireland. I interviewed them on the air for WSM and I didn’t want them to stop talking! The Irish accent is the most charming sound-another reason I want to go. I kept their cards for when Charlie and I finally take that trip and started looking at their website and sister site, www. ireland.com–doing a little preplanning. In between the beautiful pictures and stories of historic places and sites not to miss, I found this recipe for authentic Irish brown soda bread from a notable cook in Ireland, Lesley Keogh.
Soda bread has a long history in Ireland and is made daily in kitchens all across the island. At its most basic form, soda bread is simply flour, baking soda, salt, and sour milk (buttermilk.) Irish bread bakers started using baking soda as a leavener because they found that soda worked better than yeast with Ireland’s type of wheat, which is more of a soft wheat. If you’ve been hesitate to try homemade bread like I was, this recipe is not only delicious, but easy. The dough comes together very quick with very little kneading. Do make sure to have an food scale on hand. This recipe shows the amount of flour in ounces (8 ounces per type), so I went by weight. And though a dry-ingredient cup holds around 4 ounces, I wanted to weigh the flour instead of converting to cups because different types of flour weigh differently and also, how it is measured out can affect the weight of flour, too.
You’re going to want a gravy heavy dish with this bread because it is perfect for sopping up all the juices. Here’s a suggestion: http://onepannan.com/slow-cooker-chicken-stew-with-garlic-mushroom-sauce/. It’s not an Irish stew, but it’s a darn good stew nonetheless! And if you’re wondering why you cut a cross into the bread before you bake it, some say it’s to let the fairies out. Love that!
So no matter what you’re eating OR drinking tomorrow, here’s to all the Irish folks all around the world–both by blood and in your heart. I hope you all have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day. And if you’re like me and smitten with Ireland, take a look at these incredible pictures and plan your trip. Thank you, Tourism Ireland for letting me share these pictures and a terrific and authentic Irish recipe.
- 220g/8 ounces plain flour
- 220g/8 ounce wholemeal flour (whole wheat flour)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder or bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 1 pint/500ml buttermilk ( 2 cups)
- Place all of the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine.
- Create a well in the middle of the bowl and pour in the buttermilk.
- Using your hands, combine the flour mixture and the milk.
- Drop rough dough onto a floured surface. Do not over work-just lightly form into a round shape.
- Put round shaped dough on a floured baking tray. Cut a deep cross into the bread (I also went over the cut again while bread was baking) and bake at 350 degrees for about 35-40 minutes.
- Cool bread on a wire rack.
- Have plenty of creamy Irish butter on hand! The recipe stated that a good way to tell when the bread is done is to flip it over and tap on the bottom. If there is a hollow sound, it's done! The dough is pretty sticky when you're working with it. And with that, I didn't work with it very much-it just doesn't need it! Keep in mind that this bread only keeps a couple of days. That's fine with me because it only lasted 1 1/2 at my house 🙂 Traditional soda bread didn't contain anything extra, but there are plenty of recipes out there with added ingredients.