With all of the Irish pubs in Chicago and the consequent massive amounts of Guinness and Jameson consumed, I should be some sort of leading expert on Irish food by now. The fact is, I’ve never had soda bread in the traditional sense before.
The base recipe is probably similar, but the brown bread served with Irish beef stews in this, the city that dyes its rivers green, always has raisins. The addition of dried fruit makes a spotted dog or spotted dick, an appropriately named Irish soda bread variation.
That being said, add a handful of raisins to the following recipe and you get a spotted dick.
Unfortunately, I was giggling like an idiot while writing that.
To get the right texture and tenderness in your soda bread, use coarsely milled whole wheat flour with a low protein content. Here are a few options, in order of desirability:
- Irish-style whole wheat flour
- two parts whole wheat pastry flour to one part coarsely ground wheat flakes, as suggested in the original recipe
- graham flour
- stone ground whole wheat pastry flour
- traditional whole wheat flour
recipe adapted from Jeffrey Hamelman’s Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes
Bread Baking Day #18: Quick Breads hosted by Fun & Food
Irish Soda Bread Recipe
makes one round loaf, about 4 to 6 servings
Ingredients Volume Ounces Grams coarse whole wheat flour 1 3/4 cups 8.0 225 pastry flour 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp 2.6 75 baking soda 1 1/2 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp salt 3/4 tsp sugar (optional) 1/2 tsp powdered milk (optional) 4 tsp buttermilk, room temp 1 cup + 2 tbsp 9.3 262
Preheat Oven 475ºF / 245ºC Prepare a sheet pan lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Mix Dry Ingredients Place the dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until thoroughly mixed. Pour the buttermilk and mix using a rubber spatula only until thoroughly moistened, taking care to prevent over-mixing. The dough should be sticky but not runny. Pan Deposit the dough onto the lined sheet pan. Roughly shape into a round by cupping the dough with lightly floured hands while rotating. Start from the sides of the dough towards the bottom, palms up, repeating as necessary. Lightly dust the top of the shaped loaf with flour.
Using a bench scraper or knife, cut the dough about 3/4 of the way through into 4 equal sections.
Bake 475ºF / 245ºC for 15 minutes. Rotate the sheet pan and immediately lower the heat to 450ºF / 230ºC. Bake for another 15 minutes, until the ridges are well-browned.
Irish soda bread is best eaten the day it is made. Serve with butter, marmalade, jam, honey, or cream cheese.
Is Irish soda bread supposed to look like a four-leaf clover?