So I’ve come to understand that the backbone of a lot of traditional Irish dishes basically begins and ends with potatoes, which I’m 100% on board with, I think it’s fantastic. I also happen to love Whisky. I mean, I know they eat a lot of beef and mutton, which really isn’t up my alley, so I guess my idea of a great Irish dining experience would be a lot of potatoes and Whisky…oh and lots of bread.
Irish Soda Bread uses baking soda instead of yeast to help the bread rise, which is great if you’re intimidated by the idea of making yeast breads or maybe just don’t have the time for all that resting and kneading and wondering if your yeast even survived. Or maybe you just want something a little different. Traditionally it’s made with buttermilk, dried fruit and nuts, but I made it PG19+ and used Guinness and added double smoked cheddar cheese…because beer and cheese sounds so much better than trail mix. And using Guinness makes it double Irish, right?
This bread is quite dense and thick, the crumble and texture makes me think of a hybrid somewhere between bread and biscuit, which is pretty neat. It has a slightly Guinness-y flavour to it, and a bit of a smoky flavour from the cheddar. I’m sure this bread would still be great without cheese if you don’t have any on hand, but you can’t really go wrong with putting cheese on anything, so just put it in, I know you want to. Not to mention the little crispy bits of cheese around the edge are delish. It’s a little chewy, a little crunchy, and very hearty. We ate slices of it with more cheese on the top, because that’s how we roll, but it’d be equally as delicious toasted or dipped into soup or stew! And I kind of really like the colour of it – it just looks really deep and hearty, you know what I’m saying or am I just crazy?
The dough will be a little wetter than a normal bread dough, but that’s okay because you’ll be kneading a bit of flour into it anyways, and it doesn’t have to be a perfect shape, all bread is beautiful. I tried to do a rectangularish shape, and even though the dough was wet, it still held it’s shape really well and baked into a pretty cool lookin’ loaf! Anyways, this bread is quick and easy, tastes delicious, and is topped with ooey gooey cheese so there’s no wrong time to have this. Oh and hey BONUS – the amount of beer used is less than a full can of Guinness, so you have a little treat while you finish making this!
Irish Guinness Soda Bread with Cheddar
Makes 1 really decent – too much for two people for one sitting – sized loaf.
- 4 cups AP flour, plus a bit extra for kneading (maybe up to a 1/2 cup or so and a sprinkle for the top)
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes
- 1 3/4 cup Guinness stout
- 1 egg
- 1 cup grated smoked cheddar (or whatever cheddar you like!) plus a bit more for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 375 fht. Line a baking tray with parchment paper or foil or a silicone baking mat.
Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Add in the cubes of butter and cut into flour mixture until you have a fine crumble.
In a separate bowl, mix the Guinness and egg. Slowly pour the beer and egg mixture into the flour and combine until just mixed. No “knead” to overmix here because you’ll be kneading in a second.
Pour the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it a few times, adding up to an additional half cup of flour to get the dough firm enough to mold. Make a well in the centre of the dough and knead in cheese (pictured in main text) Place the loaf on the pan and lightly cut an X or two slits lightly into the top of the bread. Top with a sprinkle of flour and a sprinkle of cheese (no measurement for the cheese, just enough until you think “oh yea, that’s gonna be good”)
Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and the top is golden brown. Tapping the bottom of the loaf should make a hollow sound.
Cool bread…or don’t (warm bread is AMAZING)…slice and enjoy!