An ever-classic staple to the Irish table: Soda Bread! While a common addition to the St. Patrick’s day dinner menu, this crusty bread is so easily prepared, there is no reason not to enjoy it all year round.
What is St. Patrick’s Day?
In case you’re unaware, St. Patrick’s Day or the Feast of St. Patrick is a celebration of Irish culture and is named after the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick. Aside from being a cultural celebration, the holiday is also a religious celebration of the Catholic saint, St. Patrick, who is credited with converting the large majority of pagan Ireland to Christianity during the 5th century. You may have heard the legend about how St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland – this is an allegory of his conversion of druids to Christianity.
How do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?
If you live in a country that celebrates this holiday then you are familiar with traditions such as wearing green for good luck or gathering around a traditional feast of corned beef and cabbage. When I was a child, my favorite tradition was leaving potatoes out for the leprechauns who would visit the house during the night, causing mischief in the household. They would turn over our furniture and leave green footprints before taking the potatoes and leaving chocolate-covered mint candies in their place.
What is Irish Soda Bread?
Soda bread is a kind of bread that uses sodium bicarbonate instead of yeast as its leavening agent. Irish soda bread is known for only employing a handful of ingredients and for its mild flavor, similar to that of a biscuit. It’s especially tasty when served with butter and alongside a hearty meal – such as corned beef and cabbage!
In all honesty, I didn’t try Irish Soda Bread until a few years ago. My family never made it growing up (oddly enough, our St. Pat’s tradition was making homemade vanilla ice cream and dying it green). But as someone who loves celebrating holidays the hyggelig way with plenty of baked goods, I finally decided to give it a shot.
I was attracted to the recipe below for a few different reasons. First, I loved the inclusion of the Greek yogurt (a great way to cut calories and add protein) and second, I loved how few ingredients were involved.
The best part? As mentioned above, you don’t need yeast! Yeast is something I never think to keep in the house, so I thoroughly appreciate a yeast-less bread recipe. Check it out below:
- 1 cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- Preheat oven to 450ºF.
- In a mixing bowl, combine yogurt and buttermilk, and mix well.
- In a separate mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, salt and baking soda.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour in wet ingredients. Using one hand, pull together ingredients in a circular motion from the center to the outside of the bowl in circles. The dough should be soft, but not too wet or sticky.
- When dough comes together, turn onto a well-floured surface. Pat the dough into a round, about 1.5 inches thick and about 8 inches wide.
- Cut a deep cross in the loaf and poke a hole in each of the four corners.
- Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 400ºF and bake for an additional 30 minutes. To ensure bread is done, tap the bottom of the loaf – it should sound hollow.
- Let cool slightly on a wire rack and serve warm.
Enjoy this crusty bread with corned beef, cabbage and – perhaps most importantly – a good beer!