You don’t have to be Irish to make a good Irish Soda Bread!

I am sharing my favorite recipe for Irish Soda Bread with you AND trust me, you can make this with your eyes closed (well, practically).  As a matter of fact I talked my brother John through the entire recipe over the phone (he lives across the country).  I had him take pictures along the way, and I did the same, so that he knew he was making the dough properly!  And much to my surprise…..

His picture of the final product and my bread picture looked exactly the same (no sibling rivalry there)! I have doubled the recipe and even 4 times the recipe with fantastic results.  Here’s a little bit of history: Over 100 years ago, hard wheat flour was scarce in Ireland so yeast was not used, because yeast needs a hard (hearty) flour to create carbon dioxide, therefore, allows the dough to rise.  Baking soda works with lighter flours, so hence the name Irish Soda Bread.  Also, you will see that I use Buttermilk instead of water or regular milk, because the good bacteria in Buttermilk gives it a moist texture rather than a dry-cake like texture.  I also add in caraway seeds and raisins, or I have used currants in the past and they work just fine.

So, remember, don’t drink green beer and drive!  We live in a small town so take a cab!!!!  Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you all!

Gotta go check the oven….

Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread

2 ½ c. all purpose flour

2 ½  c. whole wheat flour

1 Tablespoon plus 1 t. baking powder

1 t. baking soda

1 ½ t. kosher salt

1 ½ t. caraway seeds

5 ounces butter, cut up into small cubes

1 ¼ c. currants or raisins

2 ½ cups buttermilk, preferably full fat

Preheat the oven 375°F for 1 hour.  Combine the dry ingredients and blend the butter in with a pastry blender (or for those of you familiar with the “counting the cold, hard cash” method from cooking classes, use that).  Once the mixture is crumbly, add currants.  Mix.  Add the buttermilk all at once and mix with hands, if the dough is too sticky to knead, add flour as needed.  Turn out onto floured surface knead 7 or 8 times, divide dough in half, knead each half a few times, place each on silpat lined tray, pat down to 3” high, slash big x, sprinkle with oats, caraway and a little flour.  Bake until 190°F. internal temperature.  Cool on rack.  Slice with a serrated knife and serve with softened butter and honey, if desired.


About chefmarybergin

Mary Bergin Mary’s star studded career began with Wolfgang Puck and Barbara Lazaroff in 1982 at the original Spago Restaurant in West Hollywood, California. Her innovative desserts have been enjoyed and praised by customers, Hollywood stars, food magazines and fellow chefs. The James Beard Foundation invited Mary to create her imaginative food and desserts for over 1,500 guests at the 15th Annual James Beard Foundation Awards Ceremony and Reception Honoring Julia Child on May 2, 2005 at Manhattan’s Marriot Marquis Hotel. Mary was a frequent guest chef on Julia Child’s Baking with Julia PBS television series and a contributor to the cookbook, Baking with Julia. Mary became Spago’s Executive Pastry Chef in 1987 where she was responsible for pastries in the restaurant as well as training new chefs for the numerous Puck/Lazaroff restaurants. In 1992, Mary moved to Las Vegas to open the new Spago Restaurant in the Forum Shops at Caesars on the Las Vegas Strip as well as Chinois Restaurant two years later. Her recipes are included in Wolfgang Puck’s cookbook, Adventures in the Kitchen. She has also served as the National Spokesperson for the American Dairy Association on their “Just Say Cheese” and “Butter is Back” advertising campaigns. Mary helped open Tomasso Trattoria in Southborough, Massachusetts and was the Executive Sous Chef/Pastry Chef of this very authentic Tuscan restaurant. After being opened just eight months, the restaurant was voted “Best of the New” restaurants in Boston by Boston Magazine Mary’s recipes and desserts have been featured in Bon Appetit, Cook’s Illustrated Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, TV Guide’s Celebrity Dish, The New York Times, Chef Magazine (she was on the cover of the very first magazine), Boston Globe and the Worcester Telegram and Gazette. She has been a guest on ABC’s Good Morning America, The Television Food Network, In Food Today with David Rosengarten AM Los Angeles and a host of other acclaimed television shows. Mary has prepared food and desserts for two presidents, and is well versed in specialty diet and ethnic cuisines. Mary has written two cookbooks with her long-time friend, Judy Gethers, Spago Desserts and Spago Chocolate. Spago Chocolate was chosen as the “Best Cookbook of the Year” in 1999 by Food and Wine Magazine’s Best of the Best Cookbook. Mary ran the Culinary Program at Sur La Table in Santa Rosa for the past 5 years and taught most of the cooking classes. Chef Bergin has launched her own business, Culinary Therapy™ with Chef Mary Bergin, giving individual one-on-one instruction. She also teaches her Professional Pastry Course and Advan
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2 Responses to You don’t have to be Irish to make a good Irish Soda Bread!

  1. Don Steward says:

    Mary, wish you were here to make some Irish soda bread together! Have a great time in L.A. teaching your Advance Pastry class. See you when you get back next week! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!

  2. patrickatcc says:

    Mary, we really enjoyed your Julia Child class a couple years ago, we made the Boeuf Bourguignon tonight for friends and they raved. Will never forget the Marionberry Cheesecake (or something like that) that you “whipped up” that day for us–it was amazing!

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