Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Irish Soda Bread...the real deal

Darina Allen is a cooking teacher and fabulous chef at the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland. I would love to go there and take classes someday!I love hearing her voice and her beautiful Irish accent. I saw her make this simple delicious bread on the old cooking show "Cooking Live" with Sara Moulton. I immediately made it and since then I have made it every St. Patrick's Day and a few times in between. It is so easy and goes so nicely with the traditional corned beef and cabbage or Irish stew. It is hard to believe that it is not a yeast bread.
I normally use fresh chives, fresh thyme, and fresh parsley and it makes for a lovely soda bread.
Darina even suggests using caramelized onions, black olives...all manner of things.
I also make a version of the called Spotted Dog which has raisins or currants instead of the herbs and is also lovely.
I usually end up using about 13 ounces of the buttermilk, but it does depend on the weather , the flour, how you measure, etc. This is a very forgiving dough.Do not worry it is really hard to mess this up.
It is great leftover toasted in the morning...
If I had to choose one...it would be the herbed bread hands down!

Herbed White Soda Bread

Recipe by Darina Allen

3 1/4 cups unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons freshly chopped herbs, such as rosemary, sage, thyme, chives, and parsley
12 to 14 ounces buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a
large bowl, make a well in the center and pour all of the buttermilk in at once. Using 1 hand, stir
in a full circle starting in the center of the bowl working towards the outside of the bowl until
all the flour is incorporated. The dough should be soft but not too wet and sticky. When it all
comes together, a matter of seconds, turn it out onto a well-floured board. WASH AND DRY YOUR HANDS.
Roll dough around gently with floured hands for a second, just enough to tidy it up, flip the dough
over. Pat the dough into a round about 1 1/2-inches deep. Sprinkle a little flour onto the center of
a baking sheet and place the loaf on top of the flour. Cut a deep cross on it with a sharp knife,
prick the four sections to let the fairies out. Let the cuts go over the sides of the bread to make
sure of this. (This is important...you must let the fairies out!)

Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 400 degrees for 20 minutes, or until
just cooked. If you are in doubt, tap the bottom of the bread: if it is cooked it will sound hollow.
Cool on a wire rack.

Spotted Dog
Make the recipe as above..... leave out the herbs....but add

1 to 2 tablespoons sugar to the dry ingredients

3/4 cup raisins, currants, or golden raisins...toss with dry ingredients after they have been combined.

1 egg, free range is possible (optional - you will not need all of the milk if you use the egg)If using the egg, place in measuring cup and beat slightly and then fill the cup with the buttermilk until you have about 14 ounces all together. You may not have to use all of it. But I usually do...
Serve spotted dog freshly baked, cut into thick slices and smeared with butter.

Please excuse these pics... they are from last year and the year before and I was not always as in focus as I should have been, and there are a few smudges on the lens from flour,etc...but that's what you get when you bake and try to take pics at the same time!... you get the idea.


  1. Ooh is it really really delish Cathy? It doesn't look like what I have seen..This looks soo good!.The others do too..this one is just differenta nd beau!

  2. It is really so easy and very good...a nice savory bread.
    It is very delish!
    L xoxoxo

  3. If you really think I won't mess it up I'll give it a try. I'm not much of a bread baker for some reason. My mom didn't pass on the gene. Yeast and I have issues so maybe this will work for me. Sure looks good.

  4. Kathy...I promise you...do not over think this...read the directions a few times before you start and just follow it exactly! It is almost like a miracle when you take it out of the oven...
    I have had so many friends make this recipe and just be amazed...a very good friedn of mine who is extremely yeast challenged is a huge success with this...it is almost like making a giant scone...just remember to let the fairies out and all will be well!

  5. Linda, that looks really good. I'm partial to the one with herbs. Looking forward to trying it soon.

  6. oh you have been busy, they look wonderful!

  7. Linda sweet girlfriend!

    Thank you soo much for posting these. I'm making both of them.

    A happy event and perfect timing! The clump of chives in the herb garden are shooting up, almost 5" so far ~ I'll use some of them for the herb version. Yay!

    Darina Allen is my GO TO author for all things Irish ~ last year I made a fabulous salad of hers. I'll probably post it again for St. Pat's this year.

    I have only one of her cookbooks, and I'll be pulling it out for inspiration tomorrow for our DB party ~ thank you for reminding me! xo

  8. Thanks guys...
    I usually get to use my chives for this bread as well...I need to get out there today and see if they are coming up. Since we had a really cold snap, it may have stopped them.

    Mary...I do not have Darina's cookbook ,but her recipes are on the net and I have seen her on various television shows. I just love the sound of her voice...gosh I would love to go and take the classes there.

    This link has many of her recipes...

    Her Irish Stew is wonderful...

    And some more of her recipes....

    We love the herbed bread the best.
    I will post the Corned Beef and Cabbage recipe I adore soon...
    I will do it before I make it , so
    people can look at it before the big day. So I do not have many pics...but that does not matter...

    So if you make the bread...just handle it as little as you can. It is almost like a little miracle that it comes out like it does...
    It just must be those fairies!

  9. Kinda - After seeing Kathleens recipe and now yours, I'm thinking this is something I should at least try! Great photos..

  10. Hi Linda....I will have to try the spotted dog version of the bread, my husband loves raisins....and would you let me know how you made your cider gravy last night with the pork....mine was good but i had mashed potatoes too and they could have used a little gravy....Thanks.

  11. Linda, this looks great. It's been so long since I've had homemade soda bread - I can't wait to try this. I think your photos look great!!

  12. They look delicious..I have never had a savory I S B in my whole Irish life...seems like a good choice with corned beef..
    The one I make is not traditional, as authentic ISB doesn't have many ingredients..quite plain and dry..that's why they need so much butter..:) And Ireland has wonderful butter..
    I think the pic looks great..
    Happy St Patrick's Day...if you celebrate!

  13. I am an equal opportunity celebrant...on St.Paddy's Day...we become Irish!

    The originator of the recipe does not get more Irish....Darina Allen is one fabulous lady!

    Kathleen...this is pretty basic soda bread...no butter, no eggs, (in the herbed), just the flour,soda,salt and buttermilk...but it is not dry at all....
    We love the savory one with corned beef!

    And I always buy some irish butter just for the occasion!

  14. Sue I will post the recipe when I can...

  15. Ahhh. Top o' he evenin' to ya!

    What a gorgeous and authentic looking bread...I will try this too!

  16. LOL, Linda, I do not know D.Allen...enough Irish relatives to tell me the "BEST" way, according to them anyway..LOL..and they always have their secret ingredient..:)

    My bil and his 12 bro and sisters are Irish born..He says they never had corned beef there, just ham...corned beef was an American thing. Actually more of a religious holiday there...Americans turned it into a party..
    Anyway, I want to try your savory version...
    I made 50 of the other for my gson Declan's Christening last year..Monique remembers..a lot of bread!

  17. Thanks for posting this~ I've been looking for an authentic Irish Soda Bread recipe. My husband is the bread maker in the family - but I think I might be able to do this one.

  18. Ry...try the herbed one...it is really easy and even very yeast challenged people can do it....and when it is done it seems like a miracle...the soda interacting with the buttermilk makes a bread that is so much like a yeast bread it is incredible.

    And it is fun! It is the fairies...of course!

  19. Thank you so much Cathy..I had the recipe from Darian when she was on Sara's show and I lost it..I just knew it was a savory version. I have a sweet version that has been passed down and it's simular to the spotted dog version. I make it the day before and let it set overnight to let the flavors marry. Prefer eating the sweet one that way.

    So, thank you for posting this for me..