Nouveau Irish Soda Bread

March 14, 2012
4 Ratings
Photo by Alpha Smoot
  • Makes 1 round loaf
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

What You'll Need
  • 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 fine-grained 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-inch dice
  • 1/3 cup scallions, green & white parts, 1/4-inch 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-inch 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° F.
  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 in the slideshow 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.
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18 Reviews

judy March 8, 2017
This sounds amazing but....oNe of the point of Irish soda bread is it's simplicity. Jut made some tonight to go with an Irish stew recipe I got from a British Isles website..:flou, baking soda, buttermilk and a dash of sugar. I added caraway seeds and raisins. mixed up in less than 10 minutes, into the oven and ready when everything else was heated up. Simple quick easy and delightful.
Devangi R. March 15, 2012
I am simply J!Fantastic...bread guru...
boulangere March 17, 2012
Thank you ;0))
Pegeen March 15, 2012
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.
boulangere March 15, 2012
Sounds divine!
em-i-lis March 15, 2012
i will definitely be trying this, b! it's beautiful too!
boulangere March 15, 2012
I hope you enjoy it.
cookinginvictoria March 15, 2012
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!
boulangere March 15, 2012
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.
krusher March 15, 2012
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!
boulangere March 15, 2012
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.
Kt4 March 4, 2018
Were you able to accomplish a wheat-free version?
mrslarkin March 14, 2012
absolutely stunning. Well done, boulangere.
boulangere March 14, 2012
Thank you so much, mrsl!
meganvt01 March 14, 2012
This looks perfect for this weekend. Yum"
boulangere March 14, 2012
I hope you enjoy it, Megan.
sexyLAMBCHOPx March 14, 2012
Ooh, if I could bake I would try this - looks delish!
boulangere March 14, 2012
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!