Paul Hollywood's Traditional Irish Soda Bread is As Good as Gold

Paul Hollywood's Soda Bread

My, how things have changed. In my younger days, I used to excitedly anticipate the days leading up to St. Patrick’s Day. Although I'm not Irish, it was still a big deal. Maps would be drawn and plans of attack laid out for a day’s long adventure through bars, parades and block parties. But now, in my more “mature” years, things are settling down a bit. I’ve traded in the bars for social lounges, and block parties for dinner parties. But in one last spirited hurrah, I plan on banging out one more mash (get it?) for the ol’ SPD.

This time though instead of Jameson and Guinness, I’m reaching for...some flour and buttermilk? You read that correctly! Walk with me this year as I try my hand at a different Irish tradition: making a traditional soda bread with a recipe from Paul Hollywood of The Great British Bake Off. Cue the Dropkick Murphy’s, “I’m Shipping Up to Boston.”

Get the recipe: Paul Hollywood's Soda Bread

Paul Hollywood's Soda Bread Ingredients<p>Courtesy of Dante Parker</p>
Paul Hollywood's Soda Bread Ingredients

Courtesy of Dante Parker

Ingredients for Paul Hollywood’s Soda Bread

The list of ingredients is short and sweet. To get started, all you’ll need is all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, salt, baking soda and buttermilk.

How to Make Paul Hollywood’s Soda Bread

You might want to get your kids involved or call up some friends for this recipe. The steps are fun and simple and provide a convenient lesson in learning how to bake a loaf of bread in less than an hour.

Start by preheating your oven to 400° and line a baking sheet with some parchment paper. While the oven is warming up, pour your flours, salt and baking soda into a large bowl and mix it all together. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in half of your buttermilk. With your fingers or a spoon, mix the flour into the buttermilk and continue to add the buttermilk until you have a sticky dough.

Paul Hollywood's Soda Bread Prep<p>Courtesy of Dante Parker</p>
Paul Hollywood's Soda Bread Prep

Courtesy of Dante Parker

Related: Make Ireland's Famous Roscommon Rhubarb Pie for St. Patrick's Day

Tip the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and shape it into a ball using the palm of your hand. Place the dough on the baking sheet and slice an X (or a cross, as they often say in Ireland) into the top of the loaf. You want to slice down a few inches, but not to the base of the dough. The purpose of the X is to help the dough expand as it bakes, or if you want to lean into Irish lore, it "lets the fairies out," which was a way to ward off evil spirits.

Dust the top of the loaf with more flour and bake until the loaf is golden brown, about 30 minutes. You can tell that it is ready by tapping on the base of the bread. If it sounds hollow, it's done. Remove the bread from the oven and let it to cool on a wire rack. Grab some butter, jam or some beef stew and get ready to dig in.

Related: These 11 Gluten-Free St. Patrick’s Day Desserts Will Have You Feeling Lucky

What I Thought About Paul Hollywood’s Soda Bread

Maybe it’s time for me to hang up my St. Patrick’s Day celebrating days because I don’t think I did this recipe any justice. My bread was not breading and I take full accountability.

The presentation might have gotten me kicked out of the GBBO tent, but the taste, the taste is there. If you can look beyond its appearance, it has a nice mild taste similar to that of a biscuit. And after adding a layer of butter (Irish butter would be most appropriate) to a slice, it’s very delicious. Lucky for me, this recipe takes less than an hour to make, because I just might have to give this recipe another go. Practice makes perfect, right?

Paul Hollywood's Soda Bread Final<p>Courtesy of Dante Parker</p>
Paul Hollywood's Soda Bread Final

Courtesy of Dante Parker

Tips for Making Paul Hollywood’s Soda Bread

Work quickly. Once you pour the buttermilk into the flour mixture, it will immediately start to react with the baking soda. You will want to be sure that you are mixing the flour in as fast as possible. Otherwise, you will end up with shabby and flaky dough as I did.

Up next: 50 St. Patrick's Day Recipes That Will Bring the Luck of the Irish To Your Dinner Table