Thursday, March 9, 2023

Irish Beer Bread with Cheddar, Chives and Onions

It's always fun to make a loaf of Irish soda bread for St. Patrick's Day. But, truth be told,  it doesn't really have much on the taste-side. Beer bread is the next option. A bit more flavor ... still ...

But with a full St. Patty's dinner of corned beef, I want something a bit fancier. Tastier. Robust.

So I put together this recipe and could not be more pleased. It's pretty easy. No yeast involved. Filled with savory flavor. Buttery moist on the inside. Crisp, craggy crust on the outside.

Actually, it's a bit rich.

This would, I think, make wonderful muffins. But don't use liners. You want that crust.

I used an authentic white cheddar imported from England. It was wonderful, especially since it was on sale. If you use a white cheese, the color will disappear into the batter. A yellow cheese will confetti the loaf with "orange specks." It's your call. But they do look nice with the green flecks of chives.

You could also use a Gruyere or soft white Italian, such as Fontina. I think a combo would be nice, including Parmesan. I would avoid a basic Swiss or American ...

Before beginning, first add the dried onions to the beer to hydrate and to increase flavor.

Preheat oven to 375 F degrees. Grease/spray/line a 9 x 5 loaf pan

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (385 grams) reserve about one tablespoon
  • 3 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 5 tablespoons cold butter cut into pieces (for the batter)
  • 4 additional tablespoons butter, melted (for basting as it bakes)
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced, fresh chives, dusted with reserved tablespoon of flour
  • 2 tablespoons dried onion flakes
  • 12 ounces beer (a light lager preferred)
  • 1 1/4 cups 140 grams shredded Cheddar cheese

In one of your favored, antique ceramic bowls, combine all dry ingredients. Using your hands or a pastry cutter, work the butter into the dry ingredients until mixture resembles medium/fine crumbs.

Stir in beer/dried-onion liquid until combined. 

Fold in cheese.

Fold in chives.

Evenly spread batter into loaf pan. Baste with 1/3 butter. Bake for 20 minutes.

Baste again with 1/3 butter mixture, turning pan.

After 20 minutes, baste with remaining butter, turning pan, until inserted toothpick comes out clean. You are looking for a temp. of about 200 F degrees. Since this is a wet batter, I highly suggest taking the temp.

Remove from oven. Allow to sit for about 10 minutes. Remove from pan onto wire rack. Let rest for a good 30 minutes before slicing.

This was great spread with English marmalade and served with fried eggs for breakfast. I think a fig jam would be ... jammy!

I have not tried it yet, but would be interesting to bake individual, small loaves, especially if you have an eatery ... Great for St. Patrick's Day gifts.

Here is my recipe traditional Irish Soda Bread:

Similar, is Australia's national bread, Damper:

My best and favorite Irish bread with dried fruits and caraway is here! You will not be disappointed:

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