Hello friends! Can you believe that St. Patrick’s Day is coming up in about a week?
I get excited about St. Paddy’s day for two reasons:
- It is the holiday that signals that spring is getting closer. It still might take us a while to receive warmer weather in the Midwest, but it is almost on its way!
- Paddy’s day gives me an excuse to talk about Ireland to anyone and everyone who is within ear shot without them getting annoyed with me because once a year people are curious about Ireland.
Why do I love to talk about Ireland so much, you ask?
You see, I did this totally terrifying, exhilarating, amazing, and life-changing thing when I was a junior in college. I studied abroad in Dublin, Ireland for a semester. I lived and went to school there for 4 whole months!
What I can’t believe is that I left seven years ago this past January to embark on my adventure. Seven years later and I am still obsessed with Ireland! It was absolutely one of the best experiences in my life. If you ever get the opportunity to study or live abroad at any point in your life, I highly recommend it!
Anyway, I won’t talk your ear off about Ireland, at least not yet.
But I will tell you one thing I loved about Ireland. The food! What else did you think I would say?
While I lived in Ireland I didn’t really cook very much because I shared a mini fridge with 3 other girls who were from my college. Plus the oven was in Celsius-I am math illiterate-and we didn’t have a frying pan. So, you can imagine this kitchen wasn’t ideal to do a lot of cooking in.
I lived off of tortillas with melted cheese, baked potatoes topped with melted cheese, and American peanut butter (Irish peanut butter is the consistency of sand), slathered on good hearty brown soda bread.
And we ate out a lot. Besides we weren’t there to spend all our time cooking. We were there to experience the Irish culture, and to me food is a huge part of the culture.
When I think of Irish food to enjoy for St. Paddy’s day, I no longer think of corned beef and cabbage-which BTW is not a traditional Irish food, although I do love it as much as the next American. I think of hearty brown soda bread, a good beef stew, and black pudding.
So, I ask you, what better way to celebrate Ireland around St. Paddy’s day than to make some homemade brown soda bread?
Okay, maybe some good Irish whiskey isn’t a bad idea, but we will get to that later.
For now let’s enjoy this hearty, rustic, brown bread. It is super crusty on the outside and dense, yet tender on the inside. The flavor is simple and nutty. It warms my soul and transports me back to Ireland.
The best part is this bread doesn’t require any yeast or rising time. It only asks for a little bit of gentle kneading and 45 minutes of baking time. It is so simple and easy to make.
This was my first time making brown soda bread. I was all excited to taste it if it turned out, but mostly I was very nervous that I would somehow screw it up.
It was a success!
This bread is rustic and super filling. It is delicious served alongside a stew or soup for dipping. Or simply enjoy it with some delicious Irish butter (which I highly recommend buying. It is the most flavorful butter ever)! A good jam or honey atop the butter would also be divine.
My friends, I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!
- 4 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal (optional)
- About 2 cups buttermilk* (you may need a little less or more depending on your climate. I needed a little more than 2 cups).
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a large rimmed baking sheet or line it with a silpat mat or parchment paper.
- Prepare a smooth work surface by dusting with some extra whole wheat flour.
- Whisk all of the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Create a well in the dry ingredients and slowly pour in most of the buttermilk. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine. The dough should be slightly wet; it should stick together well, but not be super sticky. Add a little more buttermilk at a time if needed to moisten the dough.
- Transfer the dough onto your flour-dusted work surface. Use your hands to gently knead the dough a few times, but not too much; otherwise the dough will become tough.
- Form the dough into a ball that is ½ inch thick. Use the back of a large knife that has been dusted with a little whole wheat flour to create two deep lines, creating an X. This helps the bread to bake evenly.
- Bake in the oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the bread is browned and the base of the bread sounds hollow when you tap it.
- Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to mostly cool before slicing. If you prefer the crust to be more tender then wrap the warm bread in a clean tea towel while it is cooling.
- Once cooled slice the bread with a serrated knife. I like to cut my bread into quarters following the X, and then slice the quarters into thick pieces.
- Serve this hearty bread with butter, jam, honey, or alongside soup/stew.
- Store leftover bread wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, in a cool, dry place for up to 2 to 3 days. Do not store in the refrigerator.
- You could also wrap the bread tightly and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months.
I highly recommend eating this bread with Irish Butter. In my opinion Irish butter is the best butter I have ever had. I can find it at my local grocery store in the specialty cheese section next to Irish imported cheeses. If you can’t find it at your store, try buying it online; it is totally worth it.
Recipe adapted from: Irish Food & Cooking