Mrs. O'Callaghan's Soda Bread

Bon Appetit's piece, "A Slice of Ireland" really lured me in this month with its luxurious spread on the Irish countryside and the enticing food found there.
**Updated: Just realized that this photograph is actually NOT Mrs. O'Callaghan's version, but brown bread from Avoca in Dublin. Oooops. Sorry. (This explains a lot.)

our version:
I loved the first picture of the thick, grainy soda bread, which spanned two pages and then the one of Mrs. O'Callaghan herself.
She totally reminds me of my grandma--also Irish, also doesn't read this blog.
(above two photos by Andrew Hetherington)

When it came down to us making soda bread, we tried to keep things similarly dreamy.
This bread was super simple--no yeast or rising-time necessary. But since we had whole wheat pastry flour on hand, we used that instead of regular whole wheat flour, and we think that made the difference when it came to the appearance of ours vs. Mrs. O'Callaghan's--O'Callaghan's appearing decidedly more rustic.

Oh and speaking of Mrs. O'Callaghan and in the spirit of old-school Bon Appetempt...

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
3 cups all purpose flour
3 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled margarine or butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups buttermilk
Preheat oven to 425°F. Spray heavy baking sheet with nonstick spray. Whisk both flours, sugar, and baking soda in medium bowl to blend. Add margarine and cut in until margarine is reduced to pea-size pieces. Add buttermilk; stir until shaggy dough forms. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until dough comes together, about 10 turns. Shape dough into 7-inch round. Place dough on prepared baking sheet. Cut large X, 1/2 inch deep, in top of dough.

Bake bread until deep brown and bottom sounds hollow when firmly tapped, about 40 minutes. Transfer bread to rack and cool completely.


Matthew said...

This was my first taste of soda bread -- it was sweet and really, really good with butter. Also, I love your Mrs. O'Callaghan shot.

Andrea said...

Our local Irish pub makes the most pitiful soda bread. Would you guys come to NC and give them some of your soda bread?

I love Amelia's Mrs. O'Callaghan shot, but my eye is drawn to the Vivienne.

Andrew Hetherington said...

The picture in the opening spread isn't actually Mrs Callaghans bread. It is from Avoca. Got to say your bread turned out pretty similar in color and texture to hers from what I can see.

Amelia Morris said...

whooooops! As my grandma would say, looks like I pulled a "major boner." I guess that's what happens when you are captivated by such great photos??

Thanks for pointing out, Andrew!

Mary Anne said...

mmmmmm... looks good and easy! But you should have a made a scarier face in the picture!

I also found my eye drawn to the Vivienne.... haha

Unknown said...

Amelia - BA Web Editor Emily Fleischaker (@emofly) here. This post is hilarious! Thank you so much for trying out our recipe. We've loved your blog from the beginning. We've started a new feature on the site called "What people are cooking." It's two fold. First, any time we find a blog that has written about/tried one of our recipes, we link to the post from the recipe on our site (like this: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2010/01/spaghetti_and_meatballs_all_amatriciana). This allows people to see the experiences that other home cooks have had with a recipe. Second, every Friday we feature a certain dish on our blog (one that a lot of food bloggers have made) and publish their photos and review and link to their sites (with their permission of course). This inspires our readers to try recipes if they liked the way they turned out in other home cooks' kitchens. Your site fits perfectly with all of this! We're going to add a link to your blog from the BA recipes you've made so far, and we'll be in touch if we'd like to do a larger feature. Thanks again!

Three Days Three Ways said...

Yummmmmm. I'm totally trying this. I biked through Irleand years ago and lived on brown bread. It's the BEST and haven't been able to find it since then. Maybe this is the trick! Thanks!

Marsha and Mark said...

Amelia has really channeled Mrs. O'Callaghan and the resemblance is amazing (scary). The soda bread looks great!

Anonymous said...

you are vibrating at a very high frequency, little star. bravo. you have made flannery summer very proud.

Anonymous said...

you are vibrating at a very high frequency, little star. bravo. you have made flannery summer very proud.

Amelia Morris said...

Emily/Emofly: Thanks! I'm honored/would love to work with you guys! Please feel free to get in touch with me at bonappetempt@gmail.com.

Andrew Hetherington said...

I wrote a post including you and a picture of Mrs O'Callaghans bread baked - you were pretty close minus the marmalade

go here: http://bit.ly/bEkjAW

Anonymous said...

thanks so much for your attempt at this recipe. i just came back from a trip to ireland. We were near this hotel and called to see if we can buy soda bread to go, and she flatly said no, not until april. :( so i just made it and googled the bread because my memory told me the bread was dark black. I was relieved to find your blog and the pictures. MIne looks just like yours! I did not use pastry dough, but i did bake mine in my dutch oven for 30 min and 30 min uncovered. Turned out great!

sera said...

I think my oven was too hot. Mine browned way too quickly on top and was still a little doughy in the middle. damned rental oven. I took it to a corned beef and cabbage party and we should have brought butter. I think I will make this again if only to serve with butter and jam.

Anonymous said...

You know what you're doing. Your recipe didn't have a bunch of baking POWDER in it. Tsk...what are those people thinking. Soda Bread with baking powder?

Did you note the wrists on Mrs. Callaghan? I think she's made a loaf or two in her time. You've got a long way to go in the wrist department.

I came here from Mad Chemist. Bookmarked...

Amelia Morris said...

dear mad chemist,
thanks for pointing out my oh-so dainty wrists! A few hundred more soda breads though and I could really get 'em bulked up!