Get ready for St. Patrick’s Day by turning up the dial on your regular Irish soda bread–add chives for a flavor kick AND some green!
I’ll be honest, I think Irish Soda Bread is an acquired taste. The recipe was developed to be simple, to use only the most basic ingredients: flour, soured milk, and baking soda instead of yeast to give it a rise. Bread gets a lot of it’s flavor from the yeast. When it’s rising, the yeast is not only activating to make the bread rise but also to give it flavor. Because soda bread doesn’t have any yeast, it doesn’t taste quite the same as “regular” bread does. It tastes a bit like a biscuit–and that’s an American biscuit, not a British biscuit!
However, it’s always fun to get into the spirit of the holidays in the kitchen, even if it is a holiday that seems a little ridiculous. I packed this version of traditional soda bread with fresh chives for an herb-y kick of flavor. AND chives are green, which is perfect for St. Patrick’s Day!
While I don’t fully understand St. Patrick’s Day, I do enjoy the excuse to get in touch with my (somewhat distant) Irish roots. Plenty of people walk around with shirts that say “Kiss Me, I’m Irish!” and I have a feeling not all of them actually are. Now, I don’t plan on ever owning one of those shirts, but I do have Irish ancestors. They (shockingly) immigrated to the U.S. in the early 1850s. Perhaps some of them made soda bread. I like the feeling that I am doing the things that my ancestors did; drawing connections to my ancestors makes them seem much more real.
But back to food. The first thing I did with mine was make a very traditional Irish BLT (ha). Purchasing bacon in Austria is no easy task. It is plentiful, but most of it is not meant to be cooked. And there are a million different varieties of bacon. I had no idea there were so many different ways to cure meat. Seriously. What will you do with your Irish soda bread?
Chive-y Soda Bread
Makes 1 small loaf
Slightly adapted from Treese, Love, and Happiness
- 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 cup whole wheat)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk (have a little extra on hand), or use 1 1/2 cups milk mixed with 1 1/2 T white or apple cider vinegar
Preheat oven to 450ºF.
Mix flour, salt, baking soda, and chives in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the mixture. Pour the buttermilk into the well. Using your hand, stir the milk into the dry ingredients. Start from the center (inside the well) and work your way out. Add up to 1/4 cup more milk if needed.
Turn dough onto a clean, floured surface and knead VERY briefly just to tidy up and shape into a loaf. Shape the loaf, slash the top, and prick with a fork to allow steam to escape.
Bake for 20 minutes, then turn down the temperature to 400ºF and bake for another 20. Place a piece of aluminum foil loosely over the loaf if it seems to be browning too quickly. The loaf is finished if it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.