Guest Author - Mary Ellen Sweeney
Irish Brown Soda Bread is made of special wholemeal wheat flour that gives it a nutty flavor and slightly coarse texture. Soda breads are "quick breads" in that they are leavened with baking soda rather than yeast; it makes no mess in the kitchen, a practiced cook will barely have to rinse the bowl to return it to the shelf, clean.
It is the bread of the people. For so long, the specially ground wholemeal flour was not easily available outside of Ireland. That is why the white-flour Irish Soda Bread has become so popular rather than the more healthful Brown Irish Soda Bread which is the staple in most Irish households. White Irish Soda Bread in Ireland is simply an alternative; elsewhere it seems to comprise the majority of "Irish Soda Bread" experiences, many of which are dismal. How many of us have been tempted by the poly-bagged versions that appear in every baked-goods department in the land shortly before St. Patrick's Day. This is not Irish Soda Bread, brown or white---but I digress.
Where there is no real wholemeal flour, Irish bakers use the ingredients at hand to make the quick soda breads. It’s the Brown Irish Soda Bread that is generally served with the famous Irish Country Breakfast. It is used in appetizers, makes a nice sandwich with savory ingredients, and is well enjoyed with a schmear of fresh creamery butter and a dollop of nice berry jam. And you’re just as likely to find it in the bread basket at a fancy restaurant as in the cottage in the glen. Enjoy it’s crusty goodness with some wild salmon and butter as an appetizer.
One of the most enticing scents is that of brown bread baking. While there is no yeast used in the recipe, there is a special aroma that alerts the tastebuds that they are soon to be in for a treat. The worst thing about the combination of this aroma and the warmth of the oven still baking that bread is that no Irish baker worth his or her salt will allow the cutting of the loaf before the bread has cooled completely. It’s simply not done. Whether the hot scone is wrapped in a clean tea towel to produce a soft, tender crust or left in the open for a crusty, crumbly loaf, the bread needs to cool before cutting or it will not hold together well and half the loaf will be lost, crumbling under the knife.
Virtually everyone in Ireland uses Odlum's Flour and makes the mix with buttermilk rather than water. A little sugar is no harm either. A deep cut into the dough before baking will ensure that the bread is cooked through without the pasty lump one could find in the middle of an underdone loaf. If making a round loaf as one would with Irish soda bread, cut a deep cross in the loaf. Be sure the oven is preheated; this too will ensure that your bread is well cooked.
Irish Brown Bread is an economical and healthful alternative to any store-bought bread. It is high in fiber 7.8 g/100g and has a very respectable amount of protein 10.6g per 100g.)
Organic Irish Salmon and Butter on Brown Bread
This is a wonderful appetizer for a dinner party or even a light lunch.
The wild Irish salmon and Irish butter lend a distinctive flavor to this delightful nosh.
Cut the cooled brown bread into thin slices. Halve the slices, butter lightly, and add a thin slice of Organic Irish salmon on top of the bread and butter. Enjoy.
To find Odlum's Brown Bread mix and many other Irish foods and sundries, visit:
Enjoy in good health.