Sure it’s mid-March, St. Patrick’s Day is upon us, and everyone is a wee bit Irish. However, this easy, yeast-free Irish soda bread is good anytime you want to make some fresh, homemade bread. Bread made with baking soda can be found in many variations all over Ireland, says cookbook author and baking expert Elinor Klivans, who created this recipe for Real Food, and this version has dough that can be mixed in less than 5 minutes and does all of its rising in the oven.
The sticky dough is formed into a round or oval shape, and as it bakes, it forms a crisp, crinkled crust and a coarse-grained (almost muffin-like) texture. Oatmeal and a bit of whole-wheat flour add a slight nutty flavor, says Klivans. For a twist, nuts, raisins, or dried fruit can be added to the dough. Irish soda bread makes wonderful toast—perhaps served with Irish stew—or works well for sandwiches. Try toasted slices for a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich or use the bread for a grilled ham and Swiss or Cheddar sandwich, such as the example shown here.
Oatmeal Irish Soda Bread
Makes 1 round loaf
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon oatmeal (not quick-cooking), divided
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons melted butter
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Sprinkle a baking sheet lightly with flour.
2. In a large bowl of an electric mixer on low speed, mix together both flours, 1 cup oatmeal, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Mix in the buttermilk and melted butter. Continue mixing until a soft, sticky dough forms. The bread can also be mixed with a large spoon.
3. With lightly floured hands, gather the dough into a ball and pat it into a 6-inch round that is about 1½ inches thick, and place it on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the 1 tablespoon of oatmeal over the top, pressing it gently onto the dough. Use a sharp knife to cut an X-shaped slash across the top.
4. Bake until the top is crisp and lightly browned and the bottom is brown, about 45 to 50 minutes.
5. Let the bread cool on the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slide the bread onto the rack to cool completely. The bread is best served within two days or toasted after that.
Nutrition info Oatmeal Irish Soda Bread (Per Serving): Calories 136 (24 From Fat); Fat 3g (Sat. 1g); Chol 6mg; Sodium 184mg; Carb 24g; Fiber 2g; Protein 4g