My go-to St. Patrick’s Day tradition is enjoying a boatload of Guinness while listening to live Irish music at the Black Rose in downtown Boston. No matter how crowded we know it’s going to be or how high the cover charge might be on that day, we always find our way there, clapping along to “Whiskey in the Jar”.
But since that wasn’t an option this year (and since I have a food blog this year), I thought I should celebrate the holiday of my ancestors with some Irish food.
Corned beef was quickly taken off the table because that’s too much time and effort for something I might like and only two of us will be eating. Also it kind of scares me even though, rationally, there’s probably nothing about it I wouldn’t like. I just remember smelling it one time as a kid and finding that smell and its name both very gross.
That meant no reubens since those are just corned beef with more crap on top.
And we all already know that I’ll like anything that features potatoes as its main star.
So that left Irish soda bread. But not just any traditional soda bread because this picky eater is still not down with raisins or currants.
There is, however, a spice blend I’ve been wanting to try that has absolutely nothing to do with St. Patrick’s Day: za’atar.
Not exactly traditional, but I’m only half Irish, so it stands to reason I should make half-Irish soda bread on St. Patrick’s Day!
I went with Barefoot Contessa’s recipe because Ina is my queen, but I subbed out the currants for za’atar and sundried tomatoes because it still counts as trying something new without needing to eat currants.
As the recipe promised, the dough was, in fact, very wet. I know you’re not supposed to knead soda bread too much, but I’m not sure if my dough was too sticky going into the oven. I decided to chance it since I had already made a big enough mess of my kitchen.
Yum! It’s definitely not the most delicious bread I’ve ever had, but I wasn’t expecting as much. The texture was right, and there were no raisins in it, so I knew it couldn’t be bad.
After cutting into it, I did my best Paul Hollywood impression and commented on “the good crumb on that” and then had to explain that to my boyfriend because he thought I was talking to my bread in a British accent for no reason.
I definitely could’ve been more generous with the mix-ins. I only added one teaspoon of the za’atar and should’ve added more (on a side note, I may need to write a follow-up post the next time I use za’atar to give a full, accurate review). The sundried tomatoes added good flavor and a little extra “juice” in an otherwise pretty dry bread, but again, I could’ve had a heavier hand.
Overall, though, I enjoyed this bread with both salted butter and prosciutto on top (I’m half Italian too, after all).
As soon as I threw this loaf in the oven, I saw another recipe on Instagram for cheddar and chive soda bread that looked delicious, so I may have another loaf in my future! It definitely lived up to its “quick and easy” reputation.
What’s your favorite mix-ins for soda bread and/or, on an entirely different note, favorite way to use za’atar? Let me know in the comments below or on Instagram @thepickyeaterchronicles. And happy St. Patrick’s Day (we all know it doesn’t end until the Saturday after—I have time for my Guinness yet)!