I want to be Irish.
For my entire life, people have asked me if my red hair and freckled cheeks come from Irish genes. Each time I sigh and sadly answer, ‘no’.
Just as some folks dream of tropical beach vacations, I dream of flying across the ocean to the rolling, green hills of Ireland. I want to visit a pub in the bustle of Dublin and photograph the pastures of their rural landscape. I watch movies like ‘Leap Year’ or ‘PS, I Love You’ more for the movies’ backdrops than their story lines.
Since I am not Irish and my plane tickets have yet to be bought I will instead make the most of the coming St. Patrick’s Day, and bake this very easy Irish Soda Bread. And by easy I mean easy. Bread baking is a bit of a challenge for me and I pulled this one off without a hitch. It contains no yeast, the baking soda and yogurt create the rising action perfectly. Hearty grains like old fashioned rolled oats and wheat are both great sources of thiamine as well as dietary fiber. And, if you use wheat germ, you get the added benefit of the heart-healthy fat it contains. Either way, both of these grains will have you feeling good about eating this rustic, traditional bread.
Irish Soda Bread
(courtesy of Williams-Sonoma)
- 2 1/4 cups bread flour
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1/4 cup wheat bran (or wheat germ)
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt (greek yogurt works, too)
Preheat an oven to 425°F. Place a baking sheet in the oven to preheat.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, oats, bran, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
Add the yogurt and stir to blend, forming a rough ball. The dough will start rising as soon as the baking soda comes in contact with the yogurt, so work quickly to form the dough.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead gently for about 30 seconds. The dough should feel soft to the touch. Dust a clean work surface with flour and set the ball of dough on it. Flatten slightly into a 7-inch dome and sprinkle with flour, spreading the flour lightly over the surface. Using a sharp knife, cut a shallow X in the loaf from one side to the other. Transfer the loaf to the preheated baking sheet.
Bake until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm. Any leftover bread can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Makes 1 loaf.
About the blogger: Alison Bickel writes the blog This Homemade Life and is a guest contributor for Six Servings. Found in either the garden, the kitchen or tagging along on one her three boys’ adventures, Alison always has two things: her camera and a snack. A vegetarian, Alison is always finding new ways to incorporate grains into her diet, an often overlooked source of protein.