One of the best parts of spring at the Weaver Street Market Food House is the appearance of Irish Soda Bread in March. Our soda bread differs from the original version made in Ireland, but we think it is delicious. And we still make it with baking soda, the magical leavening agent that works faster than our usual ingredient, yeast.
Soda Bread of the Past
Soda bread appeared shortly after baking soda was introduced. The original version (circa 1840) was fairly plain: flour, sour milk, baking soda, and salt. It didn’t need time to rise but could be mixed up and baked immediately, in a pot over a fire. It was great with dinner, but would quickly dry out and crumble.
That’s why these days, we make a version of Irish soda bread that’s enriched with ingredients to keep it moist.
Our Soda Bread
We make our soda bread with wholesome ingredients including locally milled organic flours (unbleached white, whole wheat, and extra wheat bran); Randy Lewis’s buttermilk from Alamance County (not homogenized and minimally pasteurized without carrageenan); and butter that we grate into the flours to create a fine mixture. We add unsulfured dried Mission figs, dried apricots, and organic currants. (In Ireland, this more elaborate version of soda bread is apparently called Spotted Dog.) The dough is minimally mixed to keep it light, and we shape the loaves by hand. The loaves exit the oven golden brown.
You might think soda bread needs to be served with tea or as dessert. We actually love it as a vehicle for savory food: especially cheddar cheese. For St. Paddy’s Day, pick up some Irish Dubliner cheese to top your soda bread. And don’t forget the Guinness stout to wash it down!
Irish soda bread will be in stores throughout March.