On St. Patrick’s Day everyone has a drop of Irish blood. Everyone can definitely enjoy baking a fresh loaf of Irish bread for breakfast, noon, tea or supper.
White or Brown Soda bread are Ireland’s traditional bread. Ireland used hearths much longer than many countries. No ovens meant soda breads were baked on a griddle or in a bastable, a cast iron oven pot with a lid set in smoldering peat.
Ingredients are simple: wholemeal and/or enriched flour, baking soda for leavening, buttermilk and salt. Oats or even potato were used in the breads when stretching precious wheat flour. King Arthur Flour offers an Irish wholemeal flour for brown soda bread and a great Brown Soda Bread recipe very worth baking! The loaf is shaped round and about 2 inches thick. A deep cross is cut nearly clear through, dividing the bread into fourths or farls.
If you’re baking soda bread with a child—or even if not—you’ll want to read the story of the Irish giant credited with building the Giant’s Causeway between Ireland and Scotland, Fin M’Coul. The Giant of Knockmany Hill by Tomie de Paola
Taking tea is as important as a pint! Serve a sweeter indulgent soda bread with butter plus currants or sultanas. (Raisins are often substituted in the U.S.) Land O’ Lakes provides such a tried and true recipe.
When yeast is used for leavening instead of soda, the loaf is Barm Brack. In Gaelic it’s known as báirín breac, or “speckled loaf” due to the way the dough is dotted with currants or raisins. Similar to it is a favorite Walnut Bread. Here’s a version I bake.
Other Irish home baking favorites include Bread and Butter Pudding. (The Irish would never waste day-old bread of any kind.) Clabber Girl is amazing at bread pudding innovations. If not white bread, why not Cinnamon Apple Bread Pudding?
Banana Bread’s also popular. Guess everyone has over-ripe bananas to use! You’ll like Shawnee Mill’s Banana Bread. The Irish do enjoy walnuts and betting they’d love the chocolate chip option!