Easy, Authentic Irish Soda Bread
St. Patrick’s Day is fast approaching, and what better way to celebrate Irish heritage than some warm, homemade Irish soda bread washed down with some good Irish beer — or whiskey? Your friends will be impressed, and if you pace your drinking right, you just might be able to prevent a hangover. Maybe.
Irish soda bread is also a great idea for when you’ve got the munchies.
In New York in 2013, Darina Allen, Ireland’s homegrown legendary chef, demonstrated the making of Irish soda bread to national magazine food editors as the star of Kerrygold’s annual St. Patrick’s Day media event.
While making soda bread wasn’t something new to the group, Darina’s technique certainly stood out. They watched mesmerized as Darina, using an outstretched hand and a circular motion, quickly and efficiently gathered the dry and wet ingredients in the bowl to form a dough in less than five minutes.
True Irish soda bread remains an international breakfast and brunch favorite.
Bicarbonate of soda was first was introduced to Ireland in the mid-1800’s, so the bread is hundreds, not thousands of years old. Irish Soda Bread is a traditional product of necessity — poor rural households needed a bread that used a small amount of ingredients — and Irish soda bread is a perfect recipe, using only flour, baking soda (used as a leavening agent), sour milk to moisten and activate the soda, and salt.
Superstition also plays a part in the history of this bread — after it was shaped, bakers would cut a cross across the top. Irish soda bread tends to go bad within a few days. It goes well with a main course of mutton, lamb or a hearty stew.
An energetic teacher, Darina Allen is the owner of the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shanagarry, County Cork, Ireland. (She is also a food writer, newspaper columnist, cookbook author and television presenter.) She practices her craft at the world-renowned cookery school. It is the only one in the world located in the middle of its own 100-acre organic farm.
And she makes a damn good Irish soda bread: