Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Irish Soda Bread Recipes (McGleno Version)

OK.....let's get to it.

We are less than a month away from Saint Patricks day and I'll bet you a dollar to a monkey, that in 2 weeks time, The Last American Baker will get flooded with questions from his L.A.B. Rats concerning soda bread.

First off, yeah-yeah-yeah, I get it.....The Irish traditionalist's will discredit me since I add caraway seed to my recipe, and therefore it loses it's "pure" classification, but I'd rather have the people at my table enjoy flavor more than history.

With that said, Irish Soda bread spreads fear into bakers, professionally or home enthusiests alike.


Its a technology that is employed seldom by cooks and bakers.

So for most of us, once a year we pull out Granny McGleno's recipe and do our best to remember how we made this sacred delight in the previous years.

The actual ingredient list for soda bread is pretty basic, and to be honest, it only takes minutes to mix up a batch and toss them in the oven.

That's why I always encourage my true Mick friends and relitives to push out a batch towards the end of February so they won't have to serve guinea pig loaves on the sacred day.

The "McGleno Version" is as follows...........

1 pound of white flour (the higher the protien level the better)
1 teaspoon b-soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 handful of caraway seed
12-13 ounces buttermilk (depending on the kitchen/flours humidity)
4 ounces (or 1 big dollop) of whipped cream


Start off by preheating your oven to 425 degrees. (Some peeps swear by 400)

While the oven is heating up, put the dry ingredients into the bowl first, then add the whipped cream, and then add the buttermilk in increments.

You don't want to overmix this recipe, just incorperate the ingredients until they come together.

When the dough is mixed to your satisfaction, scale it into 4 somewhat equal pieces.

When that is done, round 3 of them up, push down a bit, and then score the top with a fairly deep "X".

By cutting the crumbwall, you'll be expending the gas.

This is good, because if you don't cut it, the energy will push upward, and your crumbwall will pull away from the base.

Bottom Line, if you don't score soda bread....the final piece will look like a mushroom or a "personal part" of the male anatomy.

Now with the 4th piece, divide that one into 2 equal pieces. These little guys are going to serve as sacrificial lambs.

Doing the loaf thumping method, to find out if your peice is done is alot harder with soda bread than most yeast breads.

How many times did that stupid "THUMP-THUMP" lie to me, forcing me to sit in the "Humiliation Room" where all the Saints from Gods favorite island mocked me because there were multiple gum limes throughout my soda bread interior.

Are you getting it yet?

Those 2 little rounds are going to be guide posts,that way you don't have to be totally ignorant when removing the bread from the oven.

But note that if you follow these instructions, your 3 main pieces are going to weigh off at around 8 ounces (pre bake).

This is good, once you start getting into 1 1/2 - 2 pound loaves......WOW, the ability to understand your interior grows 10 fold.

It wouldn't be all that hard to form a "Union" with this process, but like I said.....most peeps make this bread once or twice a year.

As a pro baker, and as an Irish-Pollack.....I'd love to lie and tell you I can make this stuff in my sleep, but then you'd get discouraged when you muffed this up because I gave you false hope.

This bread takes practice....and then a little more.

So in closing......yeah baby, this bread is worth the extra hassle.

I wouldn't want to eat it everyday, but on those special is like manna from the angels.

God bless the Irish -


  1. Danny, I'm curious why you say "the higher the protein level the better". The gluten is never developed in this kind of dough, so does the protein level matter? I would have thought a softer flour would give you a more tender loaf.

  2. Tony, point well taken. I was wrong to say "BETTER". That comment was misleading, in fact it goes against conventional wisdom. Before the Irish began importing American wheat, all of their home grown crops were "Soft Wheat".

    I should have stated "Preferred".

    Remember, I am 1/2 Polish, so I may be getting this wrong, but back when the Irish were making this with their soft wheat, they were using a crude form of baking powder, baking soda had not been invented yet.

    I have felt that if you mix with a patent flour, or a high gluten, you get a better spring than using a cake flour.

    Once again, I don't want to seem rude by telling a whole nation that they are wrong.....

    but as ingredients change, sometimes our methods can as well.

  3. That makes sense. Thanks, Klecko.

  4. i've been making soda bread since i was 13. my recipe is similar to yours except no caraway, and 3/4 cup of SUGAR, and butter instead of cream. it is sooooo good. even after scoring the X i sometimes get some of that pullaway and you're right that it's hard to tell when it's cooked all the way through--i let it go 40-45 minutes in a 350 oven. cut it in wedges and slather it with butter and eat it all hot out of the oven.

    this is the only time i will ever comment about baking because it is the only thing i know how to bake.

  5. Traditional soda bread is simple ingredients of flour, soda, butter, buttermilk and a wee bit of salt. Mix with a gentle hand. I use cake flour, as it really is a quickbread. Makes lovely toast...with jam is even better! Many different versions out there. Can't wait to try your recipe with the whipping cream!