Welcome to Adare, Ireland, one of Ireland’s prettiest villages (at least according to websites I visited) and home to Desmond Castle, Adare Manor Hotel (built as a family home for the 2nd Earl of Dunraven), and loads of quaint thatched cottages.
On our first day in Ireland, I planned a stop in Adare to enjoy the village and have dinner on the way from Cork to our hotel located just north of Limerick. Little did we know that amazingly delicious Irish brown soda bread was just waiting for us.
On the way into town, we passed Desmond Castle as we crossed over the river Maigue. This lovely view definitely set a pleasant tone. Just beyond the river was a gatehouse for Adare Manor. We could not see the manor from the road and the gate was closed, so we continued into the pretty village of Adare.
and more thatched cottages before finding Pat Collins Bar, an inviting pub with an appetizing menu selection.
We were impressed with the Irish stew. It came atop a mount of mashed potatoes, which you can’t see because they’re buried under all that wonderful stew. The potatoes could be scooped up with the stew acting as a gravy, or combined into the broth for a thicker soup. But best of all was the buttered slices of Irish brown soda bread eaten alone or dipped in the stew. Oh my goodness!
During our Ireland trip, we found that Irish brown soda bread is served regularly at breakfast, which we enjoyed daily, and is available with some dishes at lunch and dinner. For instance, while on Dingle Peninsula, I had a Dingle crab sandwich served on brown soda bread and, while in Kinsale, we had a delicious smoked salmon appetizer served on buttered brown soda bread.
Returning home, I didn’t think it should be too difficult to find Irish brown soda bread locally, but I searched several bakeries and grocery stores before finally finding a loaf at Marks & Spencer.
After searching the Internet for recipes, I noticed that most were very similar with only minor variations. Given the consistency of the recipes, I figured it was a “six of one, half dozen of the other” type situation. Not so. I tried two different recipes and both weren’t quite right. For my third attempt, however, I combined the best of the two and came up with a recipe that resulted in a wonderful loaf of bread. The recipe is simple, requiring few ingredients and minimal prep time. I’ve now made this bread every weekend to go with breakfast and afternoon coffee. Mmmm!
Irish Brown Soda Bread
340 g (appx. 2.5 cups) wholemeal/whole wheat flour
115 g (appx. 3/4 cup) plain white flour
1 tsp, level bread soda/baking soda
1/8 tsp (pinch) salt
500 g (appx 1 pint) buttermilk
Preheat oven to 160° C (slightly under 325° F or adjust baking time).
Cook for 55-6o minutes. When done, the loaf will be lightly browned on top and should sound hollow when tapped. You can also check for doneness using a skewer; the bread is done when the skewer is completely dry when removed.
Some other options I’ve read about that can be added to the batter to add variety include a splash of Guinness, a small amount of brown sugar, raisins and walnuts, or chopped dried fruit.
If you bake a loaf, let me know what you think and, if you incorporated any options, how they worked out.