Green Beer and Soda Bread

While this blog is going a little overboard with the Irish lately (and this is coming from a guy named Patrick!!!), ’tis the season for it, so one more for the cooks preparing for St. Paddy’s day.

I started dating my wife six months before graduating college. Once we graduated she moved back to her hometown, Cleveland, and I to mine, Los Angeles. Over the ensuing months we continued to date long distance and less than five months after our separation, I proposed. She accepted my proposal and had already accepted entrance into graduate school at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. As the program came with her serving as an assistant hall director,  once she moved in, I packed my belongings and drove cross-country to move into a residence hall.

Miami had its ups and downs, as did the little town of Oxford. The town is so small that it is ultimately intertwined in the business of the University in almost every way. But come St. Patrick’s Day (actually the Thursday before it), an unusual tradition showed itself that I found difficult to believe the University has a hand in.


The bars would open at 5AM and serve gallons and gallons of green beer. When we were there the price would start at $0.05 a cup and every 15 minutes would raise a nickel until eventually it became full price. A good number of students would stay up all night, have a breakfast of beer and go to class with green lips and tongues. It was quite a sight to see. This was, and still is a BIG deal there. I think I could use a Green Beer Day!

In an early trial for the Gourmet Club appetizer, I thought of serving Irish Soda Bread with a Guinness cheese fondue. The fondue was just OK, and while the soda bread was good, it really would not have worked with the fondue. It is much more of a dessert bread.

Irish soda bread

Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 40 minutes | Servings: Makes one loaf. |


  • 4 to 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 3/4 cups buttermilk


1 Preheat oven to 425°. Whisk together 4 cups of flour, the sugar, salt, and baking soda into a large mixing bowl.

2 Using your (clean) fingers (or two knives or a pastry cutter), work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal, then add in the raisins.

3 Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add beaten egg and buttermilk to well and mix in with a wooden spoon until dough is too stiff to stir. Dust hands with a little flour, then gently knead dough in the bowl just long enough to form a rough ball. If the dough is too sticky to work with, add in a little more flour. Do not over-knead! Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a round loaf. Note that the dough will be a little sticky, and quite shaggy (a little like a shortcake biscuit dough). You want to work it just enough so that the flour is just moistened and the dough just barely comes together. Shaggy is good. If you over-knead, the bread will end up tough.

4 Transfer dough to a large, lightly greased cast-iron skillet or a baking sheet (it will flatten out a bit in the pan or on the baking sheet). Using a serrated knife, score top of dough about an inch and a half deep in an “X” shape. The purpose of the scoring is to help heat get into the center of the dough while it cooks. Transfer to oven and bake until bread is golden and bottom sounds hollow when tapped, about 35-45 minutes. (If you use a cast iron pan, it may take a little longer as it takes longer for the pan to heat up than a baking sheet.) Check for doneness also by inserting a long, thin skewer into the center. If it comes out clean, it’s done.

Hint 1: If the top is getting too dark while baking, tent the bread with some aluminum foil.

Hint 2: If you use a cast iron skillet to cook the bread in the oven, be very careful when you take the pan out. It’s easy to forget that the handle is extremely hot. Cool the handle with an ice cube, or put a pot holder over it.

Remove pan or sheet from oven, let bread sit in the pan or on the sheet for 5-10 minutes, then remove to a rack to cool briefly. Serve bread warm, at room temperature, or sliced and toasted. Best when eaten warm and just baked.

Yield: Makes one loaf.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Baking, Fruit, Irish, kosher, Recipes, Side Dish, snack, Vegetarian

Author:The Ranting Chef

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24 Comments on “Green Beer and Soda Bread”

  1. March 14, 2012 at 11:05 am #

    Love the soda bread. Love it.


  2. March 14, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    A great looking bread!


  3. March 14, 2012 at 5:23 pm #

    Haha I remember hearing about Green Beer on my travels! Didn’t believe it at first! Nice post 🙂


  4. Anu
    March 14, 2012 at 8:09 pm #

    Can I skip the raisins in this recipe? I’m not a very big fan of raisins..


    • March 14, 2012 at 8:10 pm #

      Most certainly. In fact, some beleive that leaving the raisins out makes it more authentic.


  5. March 14, 2012 at 8:51 pm #

    So I have an Irish recipe for you while you are fully on an Irish twinge….btw, ever been there?.. It’s the best corn beef and cabbage ever. Let me know if you want the recipe – Heather


    • March 14, 2012 at 8:59 pm #

      Heather – Most certainly!
      And unfortunately no, I have not been there…yet.


      • March 14, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

        If you love it, which I believe you will, you have to record the ooooos and ahhhhhhs! That’s the best part of cooking, right?..someone getting such enjoyment from it 😉 Let me know how best to get the recipe to you. Passing it on via a comment area may be long winded


  6. March 15, 2012 at 2:02 am #

    I’m from the Chicagoland area and Green Beer is a big deal here too. There’s usually a big Southside St. Patrick’s Day parade on one of the weekends around the holiday. They even dye the river green for the day. It’s very festive. 🙂


  7. patricknicholas
    March 15, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

    now here’s a suggestion for St Patrick’s Day: you could dip your soda bread into green olive oil (you recently read my Camera Etrusca blog about it).
    Keep ranting.
    Happy St Patrick’s! – from Patrick


  8. March 16, 2012 at 8:46 am #

    Have only made soda bread once, years (decades) ago, and this blog encourages me to try it again.


  9. March 16, 2012 at 9:47 am #

    Fun to see all the Irish soda breads up. I can’t say I don’t like the addition of butter, mine is a bit more spartan.


  10. stefssmorgasboard
    March 16, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

    what a cool tradition!


  11. March 17, 2012 at 4:03 pm #

    Always had soda bread in the pantry when I was a kid. I haven’t had it in years. I may have to try your recipe…. but maybe a green beer first!

    Happy St. Paddy’s



  12. March 17, 2012 at 8:15 pm #

    Your bread looks absolutely beautiful!
    I made soda bread scones this AM but didn’t even think to have some cheesey goodness on the side. Next time!

    Happy Green Beer Day!


  13. March 22, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

    I love your wonderful article. excellent stuff. I hope you write more. I will carry on subscribing


  14. March 23, 2012 at 2:45 pm #

    I admired your useful site. excellent work. I hope you release others. I will carry on reading


  15. March 25, 2012 at 5:16 pm #

    I adored your insightful post. first class information. I hope you write others. I will carry on subscribing


  16. March 26, 2012 at 11:36 pm #

    Reblogged this on sandiegoairporter.


  17. April 10, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    Irish soda bread was one of the ingredients that got me through my grad days at UD (cooked by my friend)….we were campus ministers in the halls, and I snagged the resident director big man on campus. We’re older now, and working hard to send our son’s off to their adventures…thanks for stopping by my April A-Z posts…say hello to Ohio for me. thanks, Kate


  18. April 12, 2012 at 2:41 pm #

    Well, take it from a real Irishman – I’ve never once drunk green beer, even on St Patrick’s Day! Yes to soda-bread though – that is pretty authentic. Leave out the sugar/raisins and serve with a poached egg, or a bit of Irish smoked salmon (or both). Yum. The version with sugar and raisins is actually called ‘spotted dog’. Nice blog by the way.


    • August 15, 2012 at 2:14 am #

      Thanks for the ‘spotted dog’ comment. I was just thinking that the raisins took it beyond basic bread. Either way, it looks like a good one; I’ll have to try it against my old recipe… Ooo… A competition! 😀


  19. March 3, 2015 at 9:27 am #

    Reblogged this on Pearl St. – Holidays.



  1. St. Patrick’s Day Recipes | Rantings of an Amateur Chef - March 15, 2013

    […] Irish Soda Bread […]


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