Sweet or Savory: How Do You Like Your Irish Soda Bread?

It almost seems wrong pitting one type of recipe against another, but we realize that individual preferences can be quite strong when it comes to Irish soda bread. Did you grow up on the sweet Irish-American version? Are you a purist who sticks with flour, salt, baking soda and buttermilk? Or do you like to experiment with a few modern twists? Last year, Susie shared her mother's recipe for a sweet soda bread filled with golden raisins and caraway seeds, dusted with sugar. She compared this family favorite to "a giant scone with a buttery sugar crust." Sounds fantastic!

If you ask for a slice of soda bread in Ireland, however, you probably won't find any of those added ingredients. Also called brown soda bread, the tradition Irish version is a simple combination of flour (often whole wheat), baking soda, salt and buttermilk. Some incorporate a little sugar and butter into the mix.

In the March issue of Bon Appétit, Andrew McCarthy (yes, that Andrew McCarthy) traveled to Ireland to track down what he remembered as the perfect Irish soda bread. He ended up at Ballinalacken Castle Country House & Restaurant and brought home the recipe for Mrs. O'Callaghan's Soda Bread. If you're looking for a more traditional version, that might be a good place to start.

Personally, I find myself in that third category, drawn to some modern twists on the classic bread. My favorite recipe (pictured on the right) also comes from Bon Appétit. It's a savory version that incorporates oats, browned butter, black pepper and rosemary.

So, where do you stand? Do you have a favorite recipe for Irish Soda Bread?

Related: Recipe: My Mother's Irish Soda Bread

(Images: Susie Nadler, Joanna Miller)

17 Comments