Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread
Heritage: the things that define us, that make us up. Heritage is something we are given, which means that, at some point, it must also be something we leave behind us. Heritage dares to ask both, “Who are you?” and “What are you becoming?” Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread is my heritage.
It’s who I am: Irish, complete with the temper, affinity for dark beer, and one of those (maiden) names with an “O’.” It’s representative of who I want to be: whole wheat (a maker of simple choices that make my life better) and best when made with really, really good quality butter (a person who cherishes the best things in life).
If you’ve never had Irish soda bread, it’s similar to a scone but less fussy. The edges are craggy and golden, the flavors earthy and bold. Currants add small pockets of tartness, and caraway seeds give the Irish soda bread a robustness that reminds me that it was probably created by a people more hearty than I—ancestors who lived in the countryside and didn’t complain about taking out the trash.
This is a rugged, no frills bread, and it begs to be slathered in butter or dunked into your stew.
How to Make Easy and Delicious Irish Soda Bread
As if to reinforce its point that it is easy going, Irish soda bread is a breeze to prepare.
- Start by cutting the butter into the flour. (I’m using 100% whole wheat, because this is a rustic bread and I like the nutty flavor, but you could use white whole wheat flour for a milder taste, or even a 50/50 blend of wheat and all-purpose.)
- Next, pour the wet ingredients into the dry, then add the currants + caraway. You’ll still be able to see golden specks of butter, and the dough will be shaggy. It’s sweet, simple, and natural.
- After a few turns on a lightly dusted surface, the whole wheat Irish soda bread is ready to bake. A cast iron skillet gives the maximum “down home” factor, but if you don’t have one, a baking sheet works just fine.
If you’re in the mood for muffins instead, make these Irish Soda Bread Muffins.
What to Serve with Irish Soda Bread
- Stew. This bread is begging to be dipped in a bowl of Crockpot Beef Stew or Instant Pot Beef Stew.
- Sausage. Irish soda bread would be delicious with One Pan Cabbage and Sausage Skillet with Rice.
More St. Patrick’s Day Favorites
- Green Whiskey Smash
- One Pan Cabbage and Sausage Skillet
- Corned Beef and Cabbage Grilled Cheese
- Healthy Shamrock Shake (Mint Smoothie)
- Irish Whiskey Brownie Pie
Whole wheat Irish soda bread is who I am and what I will probably always be: craggy; imperfect; a little tart, and a little sweet.
This is (a small slice of) my heritage. What’s yours?
Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread
- 2 cups whole wheat flour - plus additional for kneading
- 1 tablespoon Imperial Sugar Granulated Sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter - cut into small pieces
- 1 large egg white - beaten
- 3/4 cup buttermilk - plus 2-3 tablespoons
- 1/2 tablespoon molasses
- 2/3 cup dried currants
- 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
- Place a rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a baking pan with cooking spray or alternatively, dust a cast iron skillet or baking stone with cornmeal. Set aside.
- In bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, lightly pulse flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to combine. Add butter pieces and pulse just until butter is incorporated but small pieces are still visible, about 10 to 15 pulses. (Without a food processor, combine ingredients in a large mixing bowl and cut in the butter with a pastry blender or fork.)
- In a large separate mixing bowl, whisk together the egg white, 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk, and molasses. Add dry ingredient-butter mixture, currants, and caraway seeds to the buttermilk mixture, then stir by hand with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. If dough seems to dry, add 1 additional tablespoon buttermilk. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface, and knead 10 times, then shape dough into a round, slightly flattened loaf.
- Place dough on prepared baking sheet, skillet, or stone. With a sharp serrated knife, cut a 1/4-inch deep “X” in top of loaf to allow air to escape. Bake for 45 minutes, until a knife inserted into center comes out clean. The internal temperature should reach 200°F and loaf should sound hollow when tapped. Transfer to a baking rack and let cool for at least 20 minutes. Slice and serve.
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