With about five minutes of prep involved — and no rise time at all — it’s a startling easy yet impressive addition to any St. Patrick’s Day feast. So if you’re cooking today, volunteer to make the soda bread and give one of these recipes a try. You might find that one of these breads — from cheddar and herb to gluten-free and whole-wheat — becomes part of your year-round recipe rotation.
If you’re having beef stew or corned beef and cabbage for dinner, this cheddar-herb soda bread from Los Angeles-based pastry chef and food writer Nicole Weston would pair beautifully with it. Bonus points for seeking out real Irish cheddar cheese for the recipe and Irish butter to spread on the bread while still warm.
"This is the bread that’s always on my kitchen table at home," Irish chef Clodagh McKenna told TODAY Food. "It’s similar to the traditional Irish soda bread, but mine is made with yogurt and fresh rosemary. No kneading or proofing involved, just stirring and shaping.
Some gripe that soda bread is too dry — if that’s your concern, try this almost cake-like bread from Colleen Kennedy. She’s half Irish herself, but the foundation for her recipe actually came from an Italian relative. You can use buttermilk in place of the cream, she notes, but U.S. milk doesn’t have quite the fat content that Irish milk does, she notes, hence her addition of heavy cream, which adds moisture and richness.
If you’re looking for a healthier way to indulge this St. Patrick's Day, look to this whole-wheat bread from Boston-based nutritionist Kara Lydon, aka The Foodie Dietitian. Lydon, who is Irish, also uses low-fat Greek yogurt in place of some of the butter called for in many soda bread recipes.
To pull off a delicious soda bread without wheat or other gluten sources, gluten-free guru Rachelle King opted to develop a savory recipe, which incorporates ingredients like pearl onions, which add moisture. When baking gluten-free, ensure measurements are precise, she says — scoop your flour into measuring cups and don’t pack it in, for example. And don’t over-knead, she adds — she only kneaded this bread six to eight times.
Don’t worry, we didn’t forget about the classic version. If you want to try the real-deal, check out this third-generation recipe that chef John Mooney, of Bell Book & Candle in New York City and Bidwell in Washington, D.C. The recipe was handed down to him from his grandmother, to his mother, to him. Make it with just the raisins, just the caraway, or both, he says, “However your taste buds sway you.”
This article was originally published Mar. 10, 2015 at 3:34 p.m. ET.