I grew up in Ireland, and we ate Irish soda bread every day with breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is a recipe that my family inherited from our cook in Ireland, Mrs. Creagh, and it’s the best that I know.
This bread is particularly delicious toasted at breakfast time with salted butter and my homemade pomegranate jelly: The salty and the sweet are just fantastic together. If you don’t have pomegranate jelly, do as the Irish do and spread with salted butter, then top with smoked salmon and capers with a drop of lemon.
Rustic Irish Soda Bread
(This is an original rustic Irish Soda Bread recipe. There's a modern hybrid of this called "The Spotted Dog" that is somewhat lighter and scone-like that uses eggs, baking powder, and currants. But this is the whole-wheat heartier traditional version.)
Home-made pomegranate jelly is great with Irish soda bread....
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white flour
1/4 cup steel-cut Irish oatmeal
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons shortening or butter (melted)
1½ – 2 cups buttermilk or sour milk
Preheat over to 450°F.
Sift all dry ingredients together into a large bowl, except for the oatmeal. (Make sure to lightly spoon flour into measuring cup before sifting.) Add 1 1/2 cups of milk and the butter (or shortening) to the dry ingredients and mix slowly to combine. Slowly add additional milk, as necessary, to bring dough together. Add oatmeal last and mix until just combined. Use floured hands to form dough into a rough ball.
Remove dough from mixing bowl and knead on a dry floury surface such as a cutting board.
Pound into a round shape and transfer to a flat, greased pan, making a cross on the top with the wrong edge of a knife.
Bake for 10 minutes. Then lower heat to 375°F and bake for 30 to 45 minutes longer until brown and firm.
If using whole milk, substitute baking powder for baking soda.