I have a confession to make: When I went to Dublin (in 2000), I ate at Planet Hollywood.
Yeah, I know. The first day I was there, I went on a tour of the countryside and ate at a little pub in the middle of nowhere. Later, I tried a boxty (hated it) and even attempted to drink a Guinness. But by the last day, I needed something that wasn’t Irish. I do think Planet Hollywood was someone else’s idea, though.
That’s me (with natural hair color) during the countryside tour.
Anyway, all that is to say that while I may look Irish and have some Irish ancestors, I am no expert on Irish food. So this recipe may not be terribly authentic, but it is easy and tasty. And a heck of a lot healthier than car bomb cupcakes.
I used Irish butter. I think that helps, right?
In addition to the butter, there is a LOT of healthiness in here. Whole wheat flour, wheat bran, oat bran, wheat germ, flax seed and sunflower seeds. I was a little worried, actually, but Toby and I both really liked it.
In case you’re wondering, “authentic” soda bread kind of depends on who you ask. Some versions are white, some are brown. Some have raisins (which I am not a fan of), some have caraway seeds and some have none of that. There is a bit of history and a bunch of different recipes here, but I liked how hearty this version sounded.
The reason soda bread in general is so easy is that you don’t have to mess with yeast or kneading or anything — you just stir some stuff together, pat it into a rough ball and make a little cross on top (I used a butter knife).
You can eat it plain, with butter or with some kind of jam. And it will keep for a few days — which is good, because it is pretty filling!
You could ditch the sunflower seeds for better authenticity, but I wouldn’t — they turn green when the bread bakes. You can kind of see it in the photo below. Hope everyone has a great St. Patrick’s Day!
Brown soda bread (from Epicurious.com)
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (plus more for shaping)
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup wheat bran
1/4 cup oat bran
1/4 cup untoasted wheat germ
2 tablespoons flaxseed (I used flaxseed meal because it was all we could find)
1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds (without shells)
1 large egg
Roughly 1 3/4 cups buttermilk
Put oven rack in center of oven and preheat to 425. Cover a baking sheet with cooking spray or line it with a silicone baking liner.
Stir all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour together in a bowl. Add the butter and work in the flours with fingers until butter pieces are very small. Stir in the baking soda, salt, sugar, wheat bran, oat bran, wheat germ, flaxseed and sunflower seeds.
Crack the egg into a 2-cup measuring cup and beat lightly with a fork. Add buttermilk until liquid comes to 2-cup line, then stir with fork to combine. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until the dough gathers together into a ball (it will look shaggy and wet).
Sprinkle a work surface with whole wheat flour and place dough ball on it. Dust the ball with a bit more whole wheat flour. Pat the dough into a round shape – about 7 inches across and 2 inches high. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect; it’s supposed to look rustic.
Transfer dough to baking sheet and make a cross-shaped indention on the top of the loaf. You should go all the way to the edges (I didn’t do this properly – sorry!), using a plastic bench scraper or something dull. Don’t actually cut the dough.
Bake the bread about 40 minutes – until it’s brown and sounds hollow when you knock on the bottom. Cool the loaf and serve warm or at room temperature. Cut with a sharp serrated knife.