This unique, delicious Cheddar Herb Savory Irish Soda Bread goes well with soups, salads and just about any entree and yet comes together in well under an hour! It always brings rave reviews from young and old alike, Irish or not!
Although I grew up on homemade bread and have been making bread myself for many years, I never attempted soda bread until a few weeks ago. I don't mean to offend those of you with Irish heritage or true-blue-Irish-born-and-raised folks but, honestly, I thought soda bead looked kind of dry and uninteresting. Being a yeast-based bread maker, I thought a quick bread (without yeast) couldn't that good. Well, once again, I was wrong (really wrong!)... this Cheddar Herb Savory Irish Soda Bread was the deal-breaker for me!
So why did I suddenly decide to make Irish soda bread? It was in preparation for a trip we took to the beautiful Emerald Isle. Anytime Scott and I travel to a foreign country, I love to explore the cuisine of that area of the world before we leave. One of the foods that Ireland is famous for it their soda bread so, along with these Irish Shortbread Cookies and a beautiful and delicious Irish dessert, I thought soda bread recipes would be fun to try.
After experimenting with several recipes, I decided to go with a savory version. Although not traditional in Ireland, the addition of cheddar cheese and fresh herbs makes for a delicious soda bread that goes well with soups, salads and just about any entree.
Soda bread, in general, is very easy to throw together. Including the time to chop herbs and dice cheese, this fabulous savory soda bread will take less than an hour from start to serving thick, warm slices slathered with melting butter.
It's a matter of combining the dry ingredients, cheese and herbs then adding egg and buttermilk. Stir the two together, turn the dough out onto a work surface and form it into a rustic loaf. The oven does the rest and the result is a beautiful craggy-textured bread... far from "dry and uninteresting"!
During our few weeks in Ireland, we discovered that the Irish not only make wonderful soda bread but all kinds of other delicious bread. Each morning at breakfast, we've been served thick slices of toasted Irish brown bread. It's a version of soda bread made with whole wheat grains and a sprinkle of oatmeal on top.
We've also discovered that Irish yeast breads are also beautiful, tasty and are made in a myriad of shapes and flavors. It seems that even the smallest little groceries have a beautiful display of bread - short, round, oval, flat, tall, rustic, traditional loaves -and everything in between!
Scott snapped lots of pictures to convey the Irish bread prowess! Check out some of their culinary artwork:
Café Tips for making this Cheddar Herb Savory Irish Soda Bread
- Choose just one or a combination of fresh herbs for this bread. I have used different combinations of rosemary, thyme, parsley, basil, sage and tarragon, all with delicious results. You'll need around two tablespoons of finely chopped herbs.
- The only exception is rosemary. If you're using just rosemary, reduce the amount to 1 tablespoon as rosemary has a stronger flavor than many other herbs.
- I like to use a medium or sharp cheddar for this recipe. Other cheese varieties would also be delicious but milder cheese like Mozzarella and Colby will yield a less flavorful bread.
- I like to dice the cheese in small cubes for this recipe but if you're in a big hurry, feel free to use packaged shredded cheese.
- Pine nuts are an optional ingredient in this recipe but do add a delicious, gourmet touch. I like to tuck a few pine extra nuts into the bread over the surface before baking for a pretty presentation.
- Although soda bread is best enjoyed on the day it's made, we love to use leftovers of this savory Irish soda bread for grilled cheese and other grilled sandwiches. It's also wonderful toasted in a pan with a bit of oil or butter and served with soup or salad.
- For easy cleanup, I like to put a piece of parchment paper (sprinkled generously with flour) on my work surface when shaping this soda bread. I use a separate piece on my sheet pan for no messy pans.
- I love these pre-cut parchment paper sheets. They fit a sheet pan perfectly and save lots of time when baking.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs
- 4 ounces medium or sharp cheddar cheese diced small (about ¼-inch)
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- ¼ cup pinenuts
Preheat the oven to 425˚Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and sprinkle it lightly with flour.
In a medium-large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir to combine. Add the herbs, cheese and pinenuts. Stir again. Run through the dough with your fingers to break apart any diced cheese that has stuck together.
Combine the egg and the buttermilk in a small bowl or cup and stir until well combined.
Combine the buttermilk and egg in a measuring cup and stir well with a fork to combine. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the buttermilk and egg. Stir just until all of the flour is incorporated..
Turn the dough out onto a work surface that has been generously dusted with flour. Turn the dough several times to coat with flour (I like to use a bench scraper for this), then form into a round loaf. If the dough is sticky and difficult to shape, add a little extra flour to the work surface.
Transfer the loaf to the prepared sheet pan. With a sharp serrated knife and cut an X on top of the loaf.
Bake for 20 minutes. Cover with foil if getting too brown and bake for another 8–10 minutes. The top should be a nice golden brown.
Brush the loaf with melted butter and allow it to cool for 20 minutes before slicing. Slice thick and serve with butter.
e Café Tips above in post for more detailed instructions and tips.
Recipe adapted from Food Gracious.
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