We love Irish soda bread, in the traditional recipe with raisins and a savory version made with cheddar cheese (in the same article).
But here’s a version of Irish soda bread that is not tradition in the Emerald Isle. It was created by Christine Fischer of Wry Toast Eats.
Can’t have/don’t like peanut butter? Add the chocolate chips only, and substitute 1/2 cup of dried cherries, cranberries or raisins for the PB.
Prep time is 30 minutes plus freezing time; cook time is 40-45 minutes.
Ingredients For 8-10 Servings
1. MELT the chocolate chips in a small saucepan over low heat, about 2 minutes. Once melted, add the peanut butter and vegetable oil, stirring until well combined. Pour into parchment-lined baking dish, distributing evenly (photo #1). Transfer to the freezer and chill for at least 1 hour (photo #2).
2. PREHEAT the oven to 360°F. Amply grease a round 9” baking pan and set aside.
3. COMBINE the milk and white vinegar in a small bowl, stirring gently. Allow the ingredients to sit for 10 minutes until the milk begins to curdle. Once the milk curdles…
4. COMBINE the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in large mixing bowl, whisking until mixed. Gently stir in the frozen chocolate chunks.
5. SLOWLY ADD the curdled milk to the flour mixture, stirring until the dough begins to take shape. If needed, add an extra tablespoon or two of milk. Once the dough has formed…
6. TRANSFER to a floured surface and kneed several times before forming into a ball. While kneading the dough, the peanut butter chunks should begin to melt and spread. It’s a bit messy, but use the extra flour as needed to make forming a ball manageable. When ready…
7. TRANSFER the dough to the greased baking pan. Cut an “X” into the top of the dough. A cross cut before baking allows the heat to penetrate into the thickest part of the bread. As a bonus in a Catholic country like Ireland, it adds the symbolic note of giving thanks.
 Step 1: Melt the chocolate.
8. USE a pastry brush to coat the entire surface with melted butter. Bake for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick comes out of the center clean and the top is browned and crisp (photo #3).
Baking soda, called bread soda in Ireland, was invented in the early 1800s. In those days most people didn’t have an oven. They cooked in a fireplace over coals or a peat fire (called turf fire in Ireland). They placed the dough in a lidded cast-iron pot which went right on top of the fire.
In County Donegal and County Leitrim, there was a tradition of adding caraway seeds to bread. Immigrants brought that recipe to the U.S. In America, the recipe evolved to include butter, eggs, raisins and sugar—ingredients which frugal housewives in Ireland wouldn’t have thought to add to the dough.
Today, the soda bread recipe options include:
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