How to Sop Up Guinness: Cast Iron Irish Soda Bread

Believe it or not, the Irish are serious about their soda bread. I absolutely love the Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread’s website. You really shouldn’t mess around with Irish soda bread wanna-be’s. It’s the real deal or nothing. Go traditional or go home. As an Irish girl and a lover of beer, shamrock tattoos, Irish music, and leprechauns, I can appreciate that. Don’t call something soda bread if it’s not soda bread!

So I think I have done my Irish roots justice in this recipe. Ok, aside from the yogurt, which was not available in Ireland in the 19th century. But, there are no raisins in this bread, nor orange zest, nuts, eggs, baking powder or yeast.

Let me explain. Irish soda bread doesn’t contain yeast. The whole point of the bicarbonate soda was that it was used in place of the yeast as a leavening agent. I even used cast iron like they did back in the day. Plus, I love any excuse to bust out my cute little cast iron skillets.

They are cute. Don’t laugh.

This is a basic, delicious, easy, pretty damn traditional Irish soda bread to sop up the beer that you will drink on St. Paddy’s Day.

Slainte!

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Some Soda to Soak Up the Beer

Editor’s Note: New Contributor LB — a Boston-based chef currently studying for her Masters in Gastronomy — joins us just in time for St. Patrick’s day with this classic Irish recipe. Welcome, LB!

Sodabread

The smell of whiskey, green vomit, and shame is clinging to the air….just another morning during St. Patty’s here in Boston. We take our leprechaun-laden drunkfest very seriously around these parts– Patty’s isn’t only on the 17th; rather it starts the Sunday before with the St. Patrick’s parade in the mostly Irish South Boston. Swigging from a communal bottle of Jameson while sharing the sidewalk with nuns and priests is always a bit of a mind-fuck, but hey, where else can you start seeing double and confess at the same time?

All this day-drinking requires a serious amount of food, of course. Corned beef, cabbage and boiled potatoes, bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie, and my favorite, Irish soda bread. Aside from a big greasy basket of fries, nothing sets me straight in the middle of a bender better than bread. Bread that is slightly sweet, flecked with raisins, and both crunchy and soft at the same time is just gravy. So do yourself (and your liver) a favor this Patty’s and whip yourself up a loaf before you pour yourself that first green beer.

Irish soda bread has a million incarnations, but this one is pretty fucking delicious– and seriously easy. I’ve seen children make this recipe, so unless you are completely void of pride, quit complaining that baking bread is too difficult and make this. Now. Of course, don’t tell anyone how easy it was — just let them bask in all your flour-laced glory. And demand that they buy you a drink for all your labors.

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