Saturday, March 12, 2011

Herbed Irish Soda Bread...Darina Allen Style...

Some years ago I saw the Irish cooking diva...Darina Allen prepare this bread on Cooking Live, Sara Moulton's cooking show on the old Food Network and I have been making it ever since. It is a real Irish Soda Bread, not adulterated with lots of additions, that while good, are not the real deal. This is a magical bread that somehow comes out tasting and looking like a yeast bread, but is nothing more than flour, salt, buttermilk, a little baking soda, and a few herbs thrown is magnificent. I have posted this before...but I shall post it again as along with the corned beef and cabbage recipe it is one of the most popular and most hit upon posts on my does not get much easier than this...lots of bang for your buck! I most always use fresh parsley, thyme and the flavor of that combination with the Corned Beef  and Cabbage is good anytime.

Herbed White Soda Bread
Recipe courtesy 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
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.

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.

If you would like to prepare a traditional Irish Soda bread containing raisin or currants...then it would be called Spotted Dog....
Here is Darina's recipe from her book "Irish Traditional Cooking"...

Spotted Dog

4 cups plain white flour
1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
1 level teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda, sieved
3/4 cup raisins, currants, or golden raisins
1 1/4 to 1 1/3 cups sour milk or buttermilk
1 egg, free range is possible (optional - you will not need all of the milk if you use the egg)

First fully preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

Sieve the dry ingredients, add the fruit and mix well. Make a well in the center and pour most of the milk in at once with the egg. Using one hand, mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be softish, not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, turn it out on to a floured board and knead it lightly for a few seconds, just enough to tidy it up. Pat the dough into a round about 1 1/2 inches deep and cut a deep cross on it. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn down the oven to 400 degrees and continue to cook for approximately 30 minutes. If you are in doubt, tap the bottom: if it is cooked, it will sound hollow.

Serve spotted dog freshly baked, cut into thick slices and smeared with butter.


  1. I adore that first photo!! It could be in a book..
    I loved Sarah M on her show..she was refreshingly humble and knowledgeable..
    Thanks Linda~

  2. I wasn't successful with my recipe last year. I will give yours a try, it is beautiful.

  3. Looks good your photo's. Thanks for sharing :-)

  4. I've made your Herbed Soda Bread Linda. It really is the best.


  5. Beautiful loaf, Linda!! Perfect for St. Patrick's Day...and every day~

  6. Thanks everyone...this is a wonderful bread...easy even for the bread challenged...just have a very light hand and do not over handle it and you will be fine.

  7. I love that you say bread challenged!!! My bread takes a few days to ruminate... and that's fine but sometimes you just want bread quickly... why don't I remember soda bread??? Your recipe looks great and Darina Allen is the queen of Irish food... i have one of her cookbooks... will try for my paddy's day!

  8. I am so glad Deana...the herbed bread is really fabulous. I know you and the Doc will love it!

  9. OK you sold me with the first photo and first line of the post. I have company coming all week long and this would be perfect for breakfast with a little butter and jam.

  10. Linda you can also make it plain with nothing else can also be cut into soda bread scones...

  11. Beautiful photos and absolutely great crumb on that Irish soda bread. Will have to try it myself. The little bird beak cut is great. Just the right depth. What camera are you using? The photos are so clear and crisp.

  12. Thank you for stopping by Sarabeth...
    Those pictures are older ones that I shot with my older Canon PowerShot S3 IS , a 6 MP camera. I recently got a new Canon Rebel T2I which I love and am slowly learning how to use. I was able to get some really nice pics with my has a built in Macro feature and that was great for taking pictures of food.

    We love the herbed soda bread...I hope you try it sometime.

  13. Hi Linda,

    I'm SO glad you reposted this recipe, as I missed it the first time around. I LOVE Darina Allen & have several of her books, being Irish & all.
    I can't wait to try making this, esp. since I have those fresh herbs growing in my garden right now. I'm NOT waiting till March 17th! LOL

    Hugs & thanks again,

  14. Thank you so much Rett...
    This is one of the easiest and most satisfying bread recipes on the reason to wait until March to make it! None at all!