Being a quarter Irish myself (I didn’t get the name “Megan Colleen” for nuttin’), this is my nod to the most American of Irish holidays, St. Patrick’s Day. Rather than a post on green beer and corned beef, I thought I’d keep it simple with a recipe that is surprisingly quick and easy. (And what’s better than fresh bread in less than an hour? Nothing!) So this might not be the most traditional of Irish soda breads, but it sure is good.
Soda bread is very much like a giant biscuit. It’s leavened with baking soda (hence the name) and baking powder instead of yeast. Like all good biscuit-like products, the key is to not over knead. This recipe is barely adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe from a couple of years ago. I always think that I’m going to experiment with other flavors, like maybe roasted garlic, cumin, and red pepper, or brown butter and golden raisins, or…something else. But I always come back to the brown butter, rosemary, and black pepper combo, because it’s so delicious.
A tip about making brown butter: it really helps to do it in a stainless steel pan (rather than a dark pan, like nonstick) so you can see the second the butter starts to brown. You want to remove the pan from the heat immediately after this happens, because the residual heat from the pan will continue to brown the butter solids.
4 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for topping the bread
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup rolled oats
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or substitute 1 cup white whole wheat flour for 1 cup of the all-purpose flour)
1 3/4 cups well-shaken buttermilk
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Line a baking sheet with a slipat or with parchment.
- Add the butter to a small saucepan, and turn the heat on to medium. Swirl the butter around in the pan until the butter solids begin to turn a golden brown and start to smell delicious and nutty. Immediately remove the pan from the heat to stop the browning process. Set aside.
- Combine the rosemary, black pepper, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and flour.
- Stir in the buttermilk and the brown butter until just combined.
- On a lightly floured counter, gently knead the dough until it has just come together, about 5 turns.
- Cut the dough in half. Shape each half into a ball and flatten slightly.
- Place each ball on the prepared baking sheet, no less than 4 inches apart. Grind additional black pepper over the tops of the breads.
- Using a sharp, small knife, cut an 1/2-inch deep “X” in the top of each bread.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the breads are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.