Nouveau Irish Soda Bread

By • March 14, 2012 • 18 Comments

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Author Notes: I use a blend of all-purpose flour and cake flour in an effort to mimic the soft, low-protein flour grown in Ireland. I added a small amount of mashed potatoes for further tenderness and some good moistness, along with the tender parts of celery for its gentle texture and deeper cooked flavor, and scallions for their deep green and bright flavor.

And about the slashing of the top: "Most soda bread recipes call for an “X” slashed into the top before baking. According to www.kitchenproject.com, there are several explanations for this. It may honor the Christian symbol of the cross, or it may be the baker’s way of “letting the devil out” during baking. Most likely, it’s simply a technique for making it easy to divide the bread into four pieces." To be honest, I'd never thought of it in any of these contexts. In culinary school, I was so thoroughly inculcated with the fact that bread must be slashed in order to direct the direction in which the baker wants it to expand as it rises because expand it will. I'm very happy to have the blinders lifted.

A note on the beer. Do use a good Irish-style lager. It's going to have a bright quality to both its flavor and color. I used one made by one of my favorite breweries in the beautiful mountain town of Red Lodge, about an hour's drive from where I live. Fortunately, all the local grocery stores also carry it.
boulangere

Makes 1 round loaf

  • 4 fingerling potatoes, about the size of (please don't take this the wrong way) your middle finger - enough to yield about 1/2 cup mashed
  • 1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine-grained sea or kosher salt
  • 1 cup celery and leaves from the tender inner stalks, 1/4" dice
  • 1/3 cup scallions, green & white parts, 1/4" dice
  • 4 ounces Greek yogurt
  • 4 ounces good Irish-style lager beer
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Additional flour for dusting work surface
  1. Cut potatoes into 1" pieces and place in a saucepan with cold water to cover and a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, and cook until quite tender, about 15 minutes. Drain using the pan lid to hold back the potatoes, and add butter to the pan. Mash in the pan with a hand masher.
  2. While potatoes are cooking, preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Sift the all-purpose and cake flours, baking soda, and salt into a mixing bowl. Press any remaining lumps through with your fingers.
  4. Add the mashed potatoes, celery, scallions, yogurt, beer, and honey. Stir to blend with a spatula or a wooden spoon just until all dry ingredients are moistened.
  5. Scatter about a half cup of all-purpose flour on your work surface. Use a plastic scraper to pull the dough out of the bowl. You're not going to knead it as much as you're going to bring it together into a ball (flour your palms too) and gently toss it in the flour to coat it. When it has a nice round shape, set it on a baking sheet lined with parchment (or dusted with flour). Use a serrated knife to carve either an X or a cross - tomato, tomahto - about 2 inches long in the center of the top. Take a look at the photo here. See how much the loaf bloomed open as it rose? Seriously, no more than 2 inch cuts.
  6. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until surface is deeply browned and you can tap on the more tender center of the X/cross and it feels bouncy, not soft or wet.
  7. While the bread is baking, clean up your work area.
  8. When bread is done, remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes before slicing.
Jump to Comments (18)

Comments (18) Questions (0)

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over 2 years ago PistachioDoughnut

I am simply J!Fantastic...bread guru...

Dscn2212

over 2 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thank you ;0))

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over 2 years ago Pegeen

Pegeen is a trusted home cook.

This sounds completely delicious! I plan to have the day after with a slice or two of lean, leftover corned beef painted with a dab of mustard.

Dscn2212

over 2 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Sounds divine!

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over 2 years ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

i will definitely be trying this, b! it's beautiful too!

Dscn2212

over 2 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I hope you enjoy it.

Cimg0737

over 2 years ago cookinginvictoria

Wow, this looks and sounds utterly delicious. Love the use of celery, mashed potatoes, and especially the beer in this bread. I am so making this for our St. Patrick's Day dinner!

Dscn2212

over 2 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thank you, civ. It comes together so quickly, and with the potatoes, it's a good keeper. I had a slice toasted this morning, and it was almost better the second day.

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over 2 years ago krusher

Well my Irish ancestry is coming out loud and strong after reading your recipe. Like many from that gene pool, flour is not my friend gastronomically speaking BUT I am going to make an exception. It looks, sounds and I know it will taste great. I'm out tonight but tomorrow night I have a date with your recipe, my two pooches hanging around the kitchen as the magic begins. Turn up the Arvo Part, chill the Faro Hill pinot gris, I'm making bread. Who would have thought!

Dscn2212

over 2 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I cook with a couple of good dogs, too. If you can't have flour (gluten), hang on because today I'm working on a gluten-free version.

Mrs._larkin_370

over 2 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

absolutely stunning. Well done, boulangere.

Dscn2212

over 2 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thank you so much, mrsl!

Meg_b_f52

over 2 years ago meganvt01

This looks perfect for this weekend. Yum"

Dscn2212

over 2 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I hope you enjoy it, Megan.

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over 2 years ago sexyLAMBCHOPx

Ooh, if I could bake I would try this - looks delish!

Dscn2212

over 2 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Hey, now, sLx, this is a quick bread, a one-bowl bread, a really easy bread. There is nothing, repeat, nothing tricky or difficult about it. I know you can do this!

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over 2 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Amazing and gorgeous use of celery, perfect for St Patricks day!! Another brilliant bread.

Dscn2212

over 2 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Even I was surprised. Thank you, sdb!