Thursday, March 16, 2023

Irish brown soda bread with dill sauce and salmon


Other than potatoes, nothing is more synonymous with Irish food than brown bread. It's served with most every meal for most every occasion. Filled with whole grains and oats, it's a healthy bread to serve your family and perfect for St. Patrick's Day.

Brown bread is a "quick bread," which means it doesn't have yeast. Its leavening comes from baking soda and buttermilk, hence the name "soda bread." Soda breads became popular in Ireland when baking soda was introduced in the 19th century because it was cheaper than yeast.

Here are some tips to ensuring your bread turns out well:
  • Make sure your baking soda is still active by adding 1/2 teaspoon baking soda to a couple tablespoons of vinegar. The mixture should fizz. You need to buy new baking soda if it doesn't.
  • Use weight to get precise ingredient measurements.s
  • Do not over mix. It will make the quick bread tough. Mix the wet ingredients separately from the dry ingredients and combine the two only to the point that the dry ingredients are moistened.
  • Grease the loaf pan really, really well. The bottom has a tendency to stick.
  • Baking soda activates as soon as it's mixed with an acid, so the bread needs to be put in the oven immediately.

The bread is often served with dill sauce and gravlax as an appetizer, but lox or smoked salmon work just as well. Curious about the difference. Here is a great explanation.

Irish brown soda bread with dill sauce and salmon

Yield: 1 loaf, about 12 slices

Time: About 45 minutes


For the bread

  • 150 grams whole wheat flour
  • 100 grams rolled oats
  • 4 grams (1 teaspoon) baking soda
  • 3 grams (1/2 teaspoon) kosher salt
  • 240 milliliters (1 1/4 cups) buttermilk
  • 30 grams (2 Tablespoons) molasses
  • 28 grams (2 Tablespoons) melted butter, cooled

For the dill sauce

  • 30 grams (2 Tablespoons) dijon mustard
  • 30 grams (2 Tablespoons) sour cream
  • 15 grams (1 Tablespoon) whole grain mustard
  • 15 milliliters (1 Tablespoon) white wine vinegar
  • 5 grams (1 teaspoon) molasses
  • 20 grams shallot, minced
  • 10 grams fresh dill fronds, minced
  • For serving: lox, gravlax, or smoked salmon


For the bread

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease an 8½ x 4½ x 2½-inch loaf pan and set aside.
  2. In large bowl, mix flour, oats, salt, and baking soda.
  3. In separate bowl, mix buttermilk, molasses, and melted butter.
  4. Make well in center of flour mixture, and pour buttermilk mixture into well
  5. Gently mix dry and wet ingredients together, being careful not to overmix.
  6. Scrape dough into bread pan and smooth top. Pan will be filled halfway.
  7. Place in oven and bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until internal temperature registers around 190 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from pan and cool on rack.

For the dill sauce

  1. Mix both mustards and sour cream. Mix in vinegar and molasses. Add shallot and dill fronds.
  2. Serve by spreading layer of dill sauce onto slice of brown bread. Top with salmon slices.


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