Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Irish cheddar and bacon soda bread

Irish cheddar and bacon soda bread

When we first moved to Houston from Dallas, one of our new neighbors greeted us with a homemade gift. “Welcome to the neighborhood!” she said. “I made you some Irish soda bread—it’s my favorite!” She then handed over a foil-wrapped package, still warm from the oven. It was a fine welcome.

After expressing gratitude, my mom and I took the bread into the kitchen. As I’d never heard of Irish soda bread, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. My first surprise was that it wasn’t green, as at that young age green was my only association with Ireland since wearing it on St. Patrick’s Day kept you from being pinched. But no, this bread instead was light brown with a craggy crust. If anything it reminded me of an oversized biscuit.

I pulled off a small piece and took a bite—it was soft and flaky with a hint of sweetness. It was so flavorful and tender I ate it unadorned, though a pat of cold butter would not have been unwelcome. It was very good—so good in fact that my mom had to warn me to stop eating it lest I ruin my appetite for dinner. Since I had never had Irish soda bread in Dallas, I wondered if it was a popular bread in Houston. The conclusion was that it wasn’t particular to Houston, just to our friendly neighbor (and Ireland, of course). But no matter its provenance, it was still a treat.

Irish bacon, Irish cheddar

Over the next few days, we ate slices from the loaf. Even after it had cooled, it was still tender and sweet. I loved that bread and when we finally reached the end of the loaf I was very disappointed. Now here’s the thing. My hope had been that we would get the Irish soda bread recipe from our new neighbor and we’d continue baking it ourselves at home. But for some reason that never happened, and then those neighbors moved away, taking their recipe with them.

As much as I loved that bread, without a recipe I eventually forgot about making it and became obsessed with other cooking projects instead. But one day while going through a file of old Texan recipes, I came across one for Irish soda bread. Remembering that delicious loaf I had enjoyed so many years ago, I made a loaf. And what do you know? The simple recipe tasted (at least to my memory) as tender and sweet as the one I’d eaten so long ago.

Now, the basic recipe for Irish soda bread is in no need of embellishment. But if you’re feeling a little decadent, I highly recommend throwing in some tangy Irish cheddar and smoky Irish bacon, along with some green onions for a bit of green. (You don’t want to get pinched, after all.) And if you can’t find Irish cheddar or Irish bacon, white cheddar and Canadian bacon are perfect substitutions.

Irish cheddar and bacon soda bread

This Irish cheddar and bacon soda bread is best warm out of the oven. You can top it with a fried egg for a hearty breakfast, or serve it alongside a big bowl of soup. Though if you’re like me you may find that you enjoy it on its own, perhaps with a small bit of butter. But no matter how it’s served, you'll want to share it with someone as it’s just too good to eat alone.

Irish cheddar and bacon soda bread

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
8 ounces cooked Irish bacon
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 cup grated Irish cheddar (4 ounces)
4 green onions or scallions, chopped, green part only
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Method:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a skillet on medium-low heat, warm up the oil. Add the Irish bacon to the skillet, and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side. Remove from the skillet and chop the bacon.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, kosher salt, granulated sugar, Irish cheddar, chopped Irish bacon and green onions until well blended. Pour in the buttermilk and mix until the dough comes together.

Form the dough into a round loaf and place on the baking sheet. With a sharp knife, cut a cross into the top. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the loaf is lightly browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Serve warm.

Yield: 8-12 servings

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42 comments:

Celeste said...

I've only had soda bread with raisins or currants in it, so making it the savory way sounds like a delicious change. I'm glad you remembered this recipe, Lisa!

Michelle Stiles said...

An Irish Soda bread that lasts for days.... That recipe is defiantly worth trying to recreate. Thanks for sharing, I sneak in cheese to soda bread but ham as well.... Sign me up. I think using half whole wheat flour would give it even more earthy flavor.

Hornsfan said...

This looks so good Lisa, I especially love the bacon, cheese and "green" ingredient suggestions.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Celeste--While it's also good with currants, sometimes you want something a bit more savory.

Michelle--Whole wheat flour would be excellent!

Hornfan--The green makes it pinch proof!

Bren said...

That looks amazing! I have a soda bread recipe but it was missing something.....bacon!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Bren--You can never go wrong with bacon!

Annie said...

I can't believe how easy this seems! I think I will try my hand in it this week. Thanks for sharing!

kale @ tastes good to me! said...

That's exactly what it's like, an oversized biscuit! I grew up eating Irish soda bread (and biscuits)daily. My mothers parents were from Ireland and brought the recipe with them to Eastern Canada.(Although I had never heard it referred to as a "recipe", it was just something you grew up knowing how to make.) To this day it's my ultimate comfort food.
Love the addition of scallions!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Annie-You're welcome. And it's extremely easy. Enjoy!

Kale--I love that it was just something you grew up knowing how to make. And yes, it's the ultimate in comfort!

ileana said...

Wow, I've never had neighbors who brought over warm bread. What a welcome! I just made my first loaf of bread this weekend. This soda bread could be my second. Looks quick, straightforward, and if it's anything like a biscuit, count me in.

Thanks!

p.s. Where'd you learn that trick about tapping on the bread to see if it sounds hollow to know it's done?

Saya said...

Ooooh I LOVE freshly baked bread. Can smell it from here on the other side of the world. Yum... thanx for sharing xo

DessertForTwo said...

This looks delicious and easy :)

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Ileana--I'm not sure where I learned it, though it's pretty common.

Saya--You're welcome!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Dessert for Two--Yes and yes!

Rob said...

Will definitely try this. Just one thing; normally, you'd put in cream of tartar as well as the baking soda. The quantities I've been doing for years are 450g solids plays 300g liquid plus 1tsp each of salt, sugar, bicarb and tartar. Yours from over the water, Rob, London

NannieG said...

This variation sounds great. I grew up with the raisin/currant version, and while it's good, this version sounds right up my alley.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Rob--All of the old Texan recipes (from the 1800s) added cream of tartar but that practice ended in the 1950s or so. Not sure why, but maybe it's because cultured buttermilk has enough acid in it for the soda to work without the additional acid found in cream of tartar.

NannieG--If you have a savory tooth, you'll definitely enjoy this.

Marcia said...

Oh, these pictures! I can almost smell and taste that bread from here... and I'm way out in California! What a great take on the traditional version.

Patsy said...

Lisa...this bread sounds wonderful. I am just beginning to venture into the world of bread baking. I live in Fairview, Texas, and have joined your blog to keep a fellow Texan company! :) Patsy

Anonymous said...

Brown soda bread made with wholemeal flour is EVEN BETTER!!!

Rob said...

this I now must try. I hope it's not just that British buttermilk is less optimistic.
Thanks again, Rob, London

Katie@Cozydelicious said...

Haha, I love that you thought Irish soda bread should be green. Your non-green bread looks amazing! Yum!

maxine said...

I hope you are aware of the niceties of Irish butter because that is what I will be having on it when i try this recipe. Thanks!

The Cozy Herbivore said...

This looks beautiful and fluffy, just the way Irish soda bread should be! This was a big treat for my Irish family every year... and I'm always surprised that even in Irish families, it tends to show up once a year. This bread is too good just for St. Patrick's Day-- let's make it a year-round tradition, I say! Beautiful post.

Sammy Davis Jr. Jr. said...

I'm a homesick Austinite in Scotland, I can't express how much your blog means to me. Lets just say the rumors of British cuisine (i.e. everything is boiled or fried) is not too far from reality... I miss my Torchy's Tacos and my food carts and restaurants where I'm not sure what I ordered with my half-baked Spanish but love anyway. This is the first recipe I've taken on since I moved here (my first non-pizza dough bread, too!) and I almost got it right! I look forward to an improvement in Take 2 so I can enjoy a perfect Irish soda bread to share with my friends on St Patty's day! Thank you for the delicious and simple recipe! Simplicity is class, I absolutely love this!

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

Don't you hate it when people move away before you can get their recipes? That's why I love the internet so much, it is the best recipe sharing tool ever! This looks lovely, I'm adding it to the menu this weekend...

SpinningStar said...

I made this recipe yesterday and it is wonderful.. I did split the batter in half and made two smaller loaves - better to share a loaf with a neighbor.

This is very filling with the added cheese and bacon. Wonderful.. and thanks.

Liz

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Marcia--Thanks!

Patsy--This is definitely an easy bread to make. And welcome, it's very nice to meet you!

Anon--I love Irish brown bread, too!

Rob--Ha!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Katie--Kids can think the silliest things!

Maxine--Irish butter is incredible!

The Cozy Herbivore--I agree, a year-round tradition it should be!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Sammy--It's great to meet you! Best wishes with the cooking--you'll be surprised at what you can create in your own kitchen.

Rocky Mountain Woman--It is indeed a great sharing tool.

Spinning Star--I'm so pleased that y'all enjoyed it and I love that you carried on the tradition of sharing it with a neighbor!

vanillasugarblog said...

NICE!
i've always wanted to kick up my soda bread with bacon.
awesomeness all around.
good job!

Lindie said...

I need to try this. Don't know where I can find the Irish components so will use American ones!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Vanillasugarblog--Bacon definitely takes it up a notch!

Lindie--The American ones will be just as tasty.

idiosyncraticeye said...

What a lovely neighbour and what a great welcoming gift! :)

Misplaced Texan said...

I made this yesterday for our dinner and it was indeed amazing. We had the rest this morning toasted with our corned beef hash. Thanks, I will be making this again! (I had some Irish cheese, but had to substitute Canidian Bacon,). Yum!

Diane said...

Great, it was delicious. I wasn't sure about the cheese amount because 8 Oz is 2 cups, but I split the difference and used 6 oz. My husband asked me to make it again, so it is a keeper!

anotherfoodieblogger said...

My family is a big bread eater, although I am not. But this looks easy enough for even me to make! (I'm not the baker in the family.)

The Impulsive Texan said...

Imagine my surprise as I picked up a copy of the local publication "edible, Dallas and Fort Worth" and saw the advertisement for a new cookbook. I thought I recognized the name of a blog that I had frequented from time to time while "blogging" and "shore enuf", it was our own "Homesick Texan" from Blogspot. Nice ad you have there ma'am. It's a full vertical half page and jumps out at you. I'm sure you know this, 'cause if I had an ad like that in some fancy periodical, I'd be happier than a preacher with full offering baskets!

Congratulations ma'am! You're doing great and I pray that you're putting a little cooking style in those New Yorkers...

Biscuits and mustard to ya...

The Impulsive Texan

the golddigger said...

The recipe I got from the woman who owned the B&B in Galway had a stick of butter in it, as well. It was so good.

homegrown countrygirl said...

I, too, have been searching for a long time for a beloved Irish Soda Bread recipe and now I know why I never found it... because I never thought of looking for it in Texas! Thank you so much, Lisa!

Alicia said...

Made this yesterday, and we loved it. It's half gone already. Man, it tastes good toasted with butter, with a fried egg for breakfast!

Alicia said...

Oh, and I used cubed pancetta from Trader Joe's since it's so quick to cook up, and I also decided to cube the cheese to get nice chunks. Delicious.

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