|Bacon topped Irish soda bread, a traditional St. Patrick's Day recipe, gets a little infusion of freshly cracked black pepper.|
Irish Soda BreadI have been cooking up a storm of my own getting some Irish dishes ready to post for y'all for the St. Patrick's holiday. I bet you can't tell by the picture of that pale woman you've seen that I've actually got Irish roots! Once upon a time I actually had some pretty blond hair but it's gotten progressively darker as I've gotten older and shrunk away from the sun worshiper that I once was back in the day.
So I'm Catholic, and I'm part Irish and I live in the south. Surprise! Believe it or not I actually have some Czech roots mixed up in there somewhere too from my Mama's side of the family, but that's another post for another day.
Let's start off our Irish feast with some Irish Soda Bread which is pretty much an essential St. Patrick's Day dish. We need to have some bread to accompany the rest of the recipes coming up afterall!
Irish Soda Bread is traditionally made of flour, baking soda, salt and buttermilk. The introduction of inexpensive bread soda back in the early 1800s, when mixed with buttermilk, meant that virtually anybody could make bread now, usually in a cast iron pot right in the coals of a fireplace since most folks did not have ovens back then. Outside of those basic 4 ingredients, anything else added is considered a variation from the authentic bread though I don't know why people get all up in arms about recipes being authentic anyway. I always say make 'em your own - yes, even my recipes!
Being the rebel that I am, here I use some black pepper and then bake my bread right in the drippings of the same cast iron that I rendered some bacon in and then, I'm topping it with the bacon I cooked to impart bacon flavor top and bottom. Oh my y'all.. I hope you'll give it a try, not only for St. Patrick's Day, but for any day! I've seen loads of recipes that also include raisins or currants and some that add caraway seeds, so feel free to add those if you like, but I wanted to keep mine strictly savory.
It is also a tradition to cut two slashes in the form of a cross on top of the bread before it goes into the oven. This is primarily to get the heat down into the thickest part of the bread to help with cooking it, but as we Catholics are known to do, there is of course symbolism there also. The cross both blesses the bread by "crossing" it and it is said, releases any demons or evil.
It's really a nice bread, just a tad bit dense but not too heavy, easy to make and simply delicious. Here's how I make it.
Adapted from an Emeril Lagasse Every Day's a Party
Recipe: Peppered Irish Soda Bread with Bacon©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 40 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings
- 4 slices of bacon, chopped
- 4 cups of all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste
- 2 cups of buttermilk
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Cook bacon in a cast iron skillet only long enough to render off some of the fat. Remove bacon, leaving drippings in the skillet. Chop bacon and set aside.
Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and pepper. Stir in the buttermilk until mixed well and dough is shaggy. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and lightly sprinkle flour on top of dough. Pat gently into a small square shape, then make folds with the dough, bringing the dough in from the outside toward the middle, all the way around all sides of the dough and adding just a sprinkle of flour if needed to prevent sticking. Shape the dough into a round disk and place it into the skillet, cutting a cross fairly deep into dough. Sprinkle the chopped bacon on top and push down into the dough.
Place skillet into oven and reduce heat to 400 degrees F. Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until nicely browned. Using a wide spatula, remove the bread from the skillet and transfer to a wire rack to cool before slicing.
Cook’s Notes: May also prepare in a cake pan. In a separate skillet, cook the bacon as above, pouring drippings into cake pan and swirl in pan to cover bottom and sides. Continue recipe as above, placing dough into the cake pan.
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