Updated from the archives -- originally posted in March 2012
We've been eating a lot of homemade bread around here lately, mainly the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes variety because it's so. darn. easy... But I've been wanting to try my hand at a good Irish soda bread for awhile.
Several years ago, on a visit to Washington D.C., I had the most wonderful walnut oatmeal soda bread at a quaint little restaurant near the Capitol Building. I've always wanted to recreate it, but tracking down a recipe proved to be quite the challenge.
So when I stumbled across a recipe from The Boston Globe that sounded like it could be similar, I immediately added some buttermilk to my grocery shopping list to give it a try. And I'm happy to say it does not disappoint! Slightly sweet and nutty, with a dense texture that's the perfect pairing for a creamy, slathering of butter, it works well as a meal side or as breakfast with a hot cup of coffee or tea.
Traditional Irish soda bread recipes call for only four ingredients: flour, buttermilk, baking soda and salt. While this recipe has a few additional ingredients, it still comes together fairly quickly once you've soaked the oatmeal in the buttermilk.
Be sure to note that you only soak part of the oatmeal -- soaking it all is a surefire way to derail this recipe from the start.
The dough is kneaded just until it comes together -- it will still be a bit bumpy, lumpy and shaggy. At this point, you can form it into a 6-inch round and slice a cross in the top of it. I love my silicone baking mat because it makes it so simple to gauge the size of your dough, and nothing sticks to it!
Your bread can be baked on a baking sheet, or you can choose to bake it in a cast iron skillet, which is the method I choose. Just be careful of that hot handle when removing it from the oven!
If you have the inclination, homemade butter is divine with this soda bread when it's warm, right out of the oven, but a sweet Irish butter, like Kerrygold, is also an excellent choice. My kids like to drizzle a touch of honey over the top. However you top it, it's definitely a recipe that you'll want to make beyond St. Patrick's Day!
P.S. If you're looking for more St. Patrick's Day fun, this shamrock hairstyle for girls is totally cute and easy to replicate, and these Green Ombre Fruit Skewers are a super easy, fun and HEALTHY snack idea!