Irish Soda Bread with Bacon and Cheese Recipe
This week I wanted to post an Irish-ish recipe to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. It took me a while to choose because a) I got distracted by Pinterest and all it’s wonderfully gaudy ideas and b) I couldn’t decide if to choose something which was brilliant and bright green but tasted odd or something with only a loose Irish connection. So, despite the ramblings, you can appreciate my dilemma. In the end, good taste won, and the lurid green mint choc chip cookies will just have to wait until next year. So, to mark St Patrick’s Day on 17 March, I present to you this Irish Soda Bread with Bacon and Cheese.
This bread is utterly mouthwatering. I love a bacon and cheese combo, but when added to bread, it enters a new realm. And when that bread is Irish Soda Bread, it’s even better. Soda bread is super easy, it’s a one bowl wonder with no need to knead and no rising time. I love making yeast based bread but there’s definitely a time and a place for it. On a leisurely Saturday when you have time on your hands, there’s nothing finer than two rising sessions after an 8 minute vigorous knead. But when you need bread and you need it now, this Irish Soda Bread with Bacon and Cheese is the bread based item for you. This hearty recipe is based on one from the lovely Jessica Gavin website, with thanks to her.
This crisp crusted affair is loaded with crumbly bacon, strong Irish Cheddar and flecked with fresh parsley. It’s wonderful on it’s own, dripping with butter or served alongside a bowl of steaming hot soup. It can be thrown together and be out of the oven in less than an hour. The hardest part of this recipe is waiting for it to cool sufficiently enough not to burn the hell out of your hands and mouth when trying to cut a slice. But do your best to show a modicum of restraint, it’s so worth the wait.
Here’s the simple but so tasty ingredients for this week’s baked treat. All hearty, traditional fare. The original recipe called for spring onions but, not wanting to sound like an old lady, they repeat on me appallingly, so I replaced them with the fresh, non-repeating flavour of fresh parsley.
Before you get started on the bread, there are a couple of things to prepare. If you don’t have buttermilk, never fear, you can fashion your own. Just measure out the milk then stir in a teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice then leave for 10 to 15 minutes.
Then, the next bit of simple pre-prep is to cook your bacon. Chop it into small pieces, I used scissors to snip it up, then cook until crisp and brown.
Once the bacon is cooked, pop it into a bowl and leave to one side to cool for a moment while you crack on with the Soda Bread.
Pre heat your oven to 180 degrees fan assisted. Then, in a large bowl weigh in your flour then add the bicarbonate of soda, salt, ground black pepper and sugar.
Give this a little stir then set to roughly chopping your fresh parsley and cutting your wonderfully strong cheddar into small cubes.
Add these flavour laden ingredients to your flour mixture then stir again. Now, all that’s left is to tumble in the cooked and cooled bacon then pour in the buttermilk or soured milk. Fashion this mixture into a slightly wet, shaggy ball of dough, adding the milk gradually, as you may not need the whole amount.
Turn this dough out on to a well floured work surface and knead for a minute or two until you have a smooth-ish ball. Form the dough in a small round loaf shape.
Now sprinkle some flour onto a baking sheet and place your newly created loaf onto it. Cut a deep slit in the top of the dough to form a cross then put in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the crust is golden brown, the cheese is oozing and you can no longer bear to wait for it to be ready.
Be still my beating heart. This bread is too good for words. I could barely wait to finish photographing this before I was shoveling it down my throat. Clyde ate three slices in one sitting and the boys were only allowed a slice once I had eaten so much I couldn’t manage any more. Suffice to say, it’s really delicious and hugely irresistible.
Hot bread with melting cheese, crisp bacon and fresh parsley dripping in butter. God love the Irish for inventing such deliciousness, and for making it so accessible too. This is certainly the most tasty way to honour St Patrick this week, and not a splash of green food colouring in sight.
Irish Soda Bread with Bacon and Cheese Recipe
Makes 1 small loaf to serve around 4 people
You will only need a big bowl, no gadgets
300g plain flour, plus a dusting for kneading
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
good pinch black pepper
1/2 teaspoon caster sugar
100g strong cheese, a nice Irish Cheddar maybe
2 tablespoons-ish fresh parsley, chopped
120g, around 3 rashers, streaky bacon, chopped
180ml buttermilk, or milk with a teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice added
Lots of soft butter for serving
Pre heat your oven to around 180 degrees fan assisted.
If you don’t have buttermilk, measure out your milk and stir in a teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice. Leave for at least ten minutes.
Heat a frying pan and add your chopped bacon. Cook until crisp and browning then leave to cool while you crack on with the bread. In a large bowl, measure out your flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt, black pepper and sugar, stir together. Cut your cheese into small cubes and chop your fresh parsley and add this to the flour mixture and stir again. Add the cool chopped bacon then pour in the buttermilk and mix until you have a soft dough.
Tip the dough onto a well floured work surface, knead for a minute or two then shape into a small round loaf. Place the loaf onto a floured baking tray and make two half inch deep cuts in the top to form a cross. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Serve warm in thick slices, slathered in butter.
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