I simply must tell you guys how amazing this version of Irish soda bread is. It might be as far from the original as Ireland is from Florida because it breaks the basic rule of the simplicity of real Irish soda bread.
Real Irish soda bread uses only four ingredients that most people back when kept on hand—flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk. I, on the other hand, had to make a special trip to Whole Foods to get whole-wheat flour, toasted wheat germ, and quick-cooking oats. That was in addition to honey and buttermilk I already had in my pantry.
I did take the recipe one more ingredient further away from its traditions by swapping buttermilk with homemade kefir. But, hey, at least I made a pitch to use whatever was on hand, right?
The bread looked and smelt so good I had a hard time focusing on photographing it. With Mom standing over me asking every five minutes if I was done, I put the camera down just after a couple of shots and broke off a piece. . . And then another. . . And another. . .
We enjoyed them liberally smeared with homemade butter that Nicole had whipped up while the bread was cooling and a syrup of roasted strawberries.
So simple and so so delicious.
Whipping up your own butter is a matter of minutes and a fun cooking project that kids can do entirely on their own. All you need is fresh whipping cream and a plastic tub. Fill it half full with cream, seal, and shake vigorously for about 15 minutes. The cream will separate into butter lumps and buttermilk. Pour off the liquid. Wrap the butter in a paper towel and squeeze out any remaining liquid. Add salt, honey, or herbs, if desired.
It’s incredibly light and creamy. You can tell right away that it’s void of any additives and/or preservatives. And you can use the buttermilk left behind to make this bread!
I simply don’t know why I don’t make it every day. This may change now that my pantry is fully stocked with all the necessary ingredients, and I can rely on my kefir grains to deliver their fresh brew every morning. My babies work like clockwork!
Nicole’s hair is actually blonde but doesn’t it look reddish in the picture below? Depending on lighting conditions and clothes she is wearing, it does get a warm red tone that becomes saturated in photographs. I love it when her hair does it.
I loved it even more on the eve of St. Pat’s Day as I watched Nicole do her kitchen science project and thought about a mix of bloods that ran through her veins.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!
Irish Brown Soda Bread, adapted from the March 2008 issue of Parents
1. 1 ½ cups all-purpose unbleached ultragrain flour
2. 1 ½ cups whole-wheat flour
3. ½ cup quick oats
4. ½ cup toasted wheat germ
5. 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
6. ¾ teaspoon table salt
7.1 ¾ cups buttermilk
8. 2 tablespoons honey
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients.
3. In a small bowl, mix buttermilk with honey. Add liquid ingredients to flour mixture; stir to combine.
4. Turn dough out onto floured surface and shape into a circle. With a thin, sharp knife, score a cross on dough about ¼ inch deep and extending fully from one side to the other.
5. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and bake 15 minutes more or until the bread sounds hollow when you tap it.
6. Let cool 20 minutes.