In days gone by, there was a popular Irish rhyme that went as follows:

Rye bread will do you good,
Barley bread will do you no harm,
Wheaten bread will sweeten your blood,
Oaten bread will strengthen your arm.

Here are three recipes for quintessential Irish breads that will certainly do justice to that old rhyme ...

Irish Soda Bread
Makes 1 loaf

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1½ cups mixed raisins and sultanas (golden raisins)
3 tsp. caraway seeds
2 large eggs, beaten
2 cups buttermilk
2 tbsp. butter, melted
Softened butter for serving

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease a 9-in. round baking pan and dust with flour; tap out excess.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir in the raisins and caraway seeds. Make a well in the center and stir in the eggs, buttermilk, and butter.

3. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and bake for about 1 hour, or until the top is golden and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan and let cool completely before slicing. Serve slices spread with butter.

Image credit: hdconnelly/Dreamstime.com

Guinness and Malt Wheaten Bread
Makes 2 loaves

2 cups fine whole wheat flour, plus additional for sprinkling
2 cups coarse whole wheat flour or
1 cup each quick-cooking Irish oatmeal and oat or wheat bran
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 tbsp. barley malt extract (see Note)
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 1/4 cups Guinness stout
Softened butter for spreading

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease two 7-in. loaf pans and sprinkle with whole wheat flour.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, oatmeal, sugar, baking soda, and salt. With a pastry cutter or 2 forks, work in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

3. Make a well in the center, add the malt, buttermilk, and stout, and mix with a wooden spoon to a porridge consistency. Do not overbeat.

4. Pour into the prepared pans. Sprinkle additional flour on top and bake for 30 minutes.

5. Reduce the temperature to 325°F and bake for 30 minutes longer, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Turn the oven off and let the bread cool with the door open for 30 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan and let cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. Serve slices spread with butter.

Note: Malt extract, also called barley malt, is available in health foods stores.

Quay House Tea Brack
Makes 1 loaf

1 lb. (about 4 cups) mixed dried fruit (raisins, golden raisins, chopped dates, chopped apricots)
¼ cup candied mixed peel
¼ cup chopped walnuts
¼ cup chopped pecans
1 tsp. ground ginger or 1 tbsp. chopped candied ginger
1 tsp. mixed spice or pumpkin pie spice
1¼ cups cold black tea
1 egg, beaten
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 cups self-rising flour
Softened butter for spreading

1. In a large bowl, combine the fruit, nuts, spices, and tea. Soak for 3 hours, or until the tea is absorbed.
2. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease a 9-in. loaf pan and dust with flour; tap out excess.
3. Stir the egg, sugar, and flour into the fruit mixture and mix until well combined. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 1 ½-2 hours, or until the top is golden and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
4. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan and let cool completely before slicing. Serve slices spread with butter.

These recipes were graciously shared with members of The Wild Geese by one of our Irish Heritage Partners: Margaret Johnson.  Margaret is the author of many excellent books of Irish recipes, which you can find on her website: irishcook.com.  She also offers guided tours for "foodie" Hibernophiles!

Margaret is currently putting the finishing touches on her new book: "Favorite Flavors of Ireland," which will be available for purchase soon! 

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Tags: ", , Bread, Bread, , Food, Guinness, , , Recipes, Soda, , Bread", Cooking, Food, Guinness, Recipes, St. Patrick's Day

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