I have a thing for accents.  I think I always have.  It’s what draws me to any movie with Gerard Butler, Hugh Jackman, Matthew McConaughey (there’s a Southern twang!), or Harry Potter.  It’s also what caused me to be completely in awe of the new girl in class one year in elementary school.  Not only did this girl have gorgeous red hair that put the Little Mermaid to shame, she was from Ireland.  Which meant she had the coolest accent I’d ever heard.  She had a little brother too, and when a few girls in my class and I got to go help the first graders a few times a week with one-on-one reading, there were nearly fist fights over who got to take the little Irish kid.  I don’t think any of us actually helped him with his reading, we just sat there and stared because it was the most adorable thing ever.  Anyway, as it turns out the little red-headed girl was more than just an accent!  Her name was Laura and we became friends because she was a genuinely sweet girl.   (I swear Laura, I didn’t just like you for your accent!)

You may remember last year around St. Patrick’s day I posted a recipe for a Mexican inspired salad dressing (hey, it was green!)  So this year I wanted to do something genuinely Irish.  I immediately emailed Laura and asked for some direction since I don’t know if half of what we consider to be “Irish” here, is really consumed in Ireland.  She passed along a whole bunch of yummy (and authentic) recipes, and this is one of them.  I’ve seen lots of recipes for Irish Soda Bread, but I loved that this one was whole wheat.  Laura explained that in Northern Ireland, where she’s from, this wheaten bread is more common than the traditional white version.

What I love?  (Besides the fact that it tastes amazing)  There’s no yeast involved! I had to make that big for all of you yeast-o-phobes.  The baking soda and buttermilk react to create the leavening agent, and that means fresh, soft, perfect bread, really fast!  So thank you so much to my friend Laura.  You guys will all love this bread!

Bread flour*, whole wheat flour, oil, baking soda, salt, buttermilk, sugar, and butter.
This recipe calls for bread flour, but according to the all-mighty wikipedia, soda bread works well with cake flour or pastry flour because of their lower gluten levels.  So I bet plain ol’ all purpose flour would work just fine.

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This is so super-duper easy.  Start by whisking your dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl.

Cut in the butter.  My butter came straight out of the freezer, so a great tip if you’re  needing to cut in frozen butter is to use a cheese grater.  Quick and easy, plus it creates perfect little sized pieces.  You can even purposely freeze your butter when you need to cut it in, (like for these yummy Buttermilk Cheddar biscuits! Yup, that was just a shameless plug.)
Then make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the oil and the buttermilk.
Stir it all up until all of the flour is incorporated.  You will have a pretty wet dough, and that’s how it’s supposed to be.  Use well floured hands and dump dough onto a floured surface.  Lightly knead a few times and then form into a nice round ball.
Transfer to a greased baking sheet and use a sharp knife to cut a cross in the middle.
Brush with a little buttermilk (if you have extra, if not just use regular milk)
And sprinkle with a little sugar.  Because everything is better with a little sugar :)
Bake it up to golden brown perfection and let it cool on a rack before you slice it up.  You can also serve it in wedges, or just let people tear off chunks. Don’t you love how rustic it looks?

Inside it’s moist and flavorful.  The texture is different than a yeast bread; it’s a bit crumbly and almost biscuit like.  It would be perfect with a hearty bowl of stew, or anything that has gravy to soak up!

It’s also SO delicious warm with a pat of butter and a drizzle of honey or jam.  My kids devoured this honey-drizzled wedge.

Stay tuned Wednesday for another Irish-inspired recipe from Kate!

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