Top o’ the mornin’ to ye! St. Patrick’s Day is here again, one of the favorite holidays around the ol’ Flamingo Pond. The husband is half-Irish, and back when we got married, we made a deal: I would get all the Jewish holidays and he would get St. Patrick’s Day and Christmas. I took this to be a pretty fair compromise, since the only holidays he wanted were the ones involving good food, good drink, and prezzies! And we like to start the morning with a slab of old-fashioned Irish Brown Bread. This is not the sweet bread with raisins or some such, that you might find in stores, today. Real Soda Bread is just that – bread. Slice it up for sandwiches, chunk it up to sop up soup or gravy, toast it up & slather with good butter, a piece of cheese, maybe some jam.
We don’t dye anything green around here, no sir! From the beginning, we’ve only made traditional Irish recipes, prepared as closely as possible to the traditional ways.
One of the really lovely things about this bread is that it’s pretty quick to make. Just mix up the dough – either by hand or mixer with a dough hook – form it up and bake. No resting time, no rising time. You can have this on the table, all warm, crusty, and ready to eat in about an hour! And I’ll bet you have the ingredients ready to go, right now. So, let’s do it:
Irish Brown Bread
- 3 cups stone ground whole wheat flour
- 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 3 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 Tbs. sugar, honey, or molasses (optional)
- 2 1/2 cups soured milk *
Preheat oven to 425° F.
In a large bowl (or your mixer bowl), combine the flours, salt, and baking soda. Mix well. Add the sweetener (if using), and add the milk, a little at a time, mixing well. The dough should be firm and still just a bit sticky.
Divide the dough into two pieces, form into firm balls, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or pan liner. Flatten each ball slightly with your hand, to about 2-3 inches thick. Slash an X across the top of each loaf (to let the fairies out, of course!).
Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the loaves sound hollow when the bottoms are rapped with your knuckle, or an instant-read thermometer inserted through the side indicates at least 192° F.
* Yes, I actually let milk go naturally sour for this. Don’t go freaking out. No, it’s not going to hurt you. After all, that’s how basic farmers cheeses historically got their starts, and the natural acids work with the baking soda to get the dough rising. And it’s a great way to use up milk that’s “gone off” on you. If you don’t have any soured milk on hand, just measure out your milk and add either a teaspoon of lemon juice or a teaspoon of white vinegar, mix it well and let it sit till it reaches room temperature.
Don’t save this just for St. Patrick’s Day, either! This is a tasty, healthy bread that’s great all year long, especially if you just noticed that you’ve run out of bread for sandwiches or snacks.
More St. Patrick’s Day food ideas:
- Mashed Potato Biscuits (Irish Potato Cakes)
- Shepherd’s Pie for St. Patrick’s Day
- Chicken in (Non-Dairy) Tarragon Cream Sauce
- Colcannon (Mashed Potato with Cabbage and Leeks)