Forget corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day, try soda bread

C orned beef and cabbage is a given for St. Patrick’s Day, despite the debate about whether anyone in Ireland actually eats it and the fact that boiled cabbage is an acquired taste at best. But soda bread can bring a note of authenticity and some slightly sweet relief to the table.

Jerry O’Brien, an assistant manager at Ri Ra at Mandalay Place, is a native of Ireland who said he’s been a baker since he was about 12 years old. Accordingly, he knows a thing or two about the origin of soda bread and what makes a good one. The bread came to be, he said, during the potato blight in Ireland, when the shortage of potatoes led not only to famine but also a shortage of yeast for baking bread.

“So they went to the recipe,” O’Brien said. “It was basic ingredients: wheat flour (soft wheat, so it can be grown in Ireland with the climate we have), baking soda (which has been in Ireland since 1840) that helps to raise the bread, buttermilk (which they had on the farm), eggs and then to sweeten it either honey or molasses.”

“It’s a pretty basic recipe,” he said. “That’s why it was so popular in Ireland during the famine. In some places we put a cross on top of the bread to bless it — ‘to keep the devil out’ is the saying back home.”

Soda bread takes different forms, which O’Brien said has much to do with geography. In the south, where he’s from, whole wheat is used, but in the north it’s mostly white flour, he noted.

“In the olden days, they would put it over the fire,” he said. “They would put a plate over the fire and cook it over that. The outside would be hard, kind of crispy, and the inside would be soft, and very moist. The recipes passed down the generations and you see houses today where they still bake their bread daily.”

At Ri Ra, soda bread is the first thing that’s put on the table after a customer is seated.

“Straightaway people know it’s Irish soda bread; they don’t even have to ask,” he said. They also serve it with their beef and Guinness stew, with the shepherd’s pie and, during the day, with salads.

“People love it,” he said. “People always ask for more. We serve it with Kerrygold butter, so it’s the real deal.”

Soda bread also is served at Nine Fine Irishmen at New York-New York.

“That’s a staple in our restaurant,” said chef Mitchell Roberts. “It’s a very dense, heavy sort of bread.”

They also serve it with Kerrygold butter, Roberts said.

“It has a very hearty crust,” he added. “It’s best served at room temperature to preserve the flavor of it, texture of it.”

Joseph Romano, vice president of operations for Golden Gaming, which owns four Sean Patrick’s Pub & Grills in Las Vegas, said the firm crust and dense texture are the reasons the company decided not to serve soda bread in their pubs.

“We have some classics,” Romano said, “but we’ve really given it a new twist. We have your classic corned beef and cabbage, we have your classic shepherd’s pie, but then we do Irish nachos,” house-made potato chips topped with corned beef, sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing and cheese. “And then we do an Irish pizza.”

Double Barrel Roadhouse at the Monte Carlo doesn’t usually serve soda bread, but executive chef David Mangual is putting it on the menu for St. Patrick’s Day. He’s using sour cream, dried cherries and caraway seeds.

“It softens up the bread a lot with the sour cream,” he said. “I’ve got it in cast iron; it has a more rustic style. And whipped honey-butter to go on top.”

Roberts said he thinks soda bread is a natural for an Irish pub.

“When people think of Ireland,” he said, “they think of soda bread and shepherd’s pie.”



  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for currants
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch dice
  • 1¾ cups cold buttermilk, shaken
  • 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 cup dried currants

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.

With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg and orange zest together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the currants with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an “X” into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.

Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 1 loaf.

— Recipe by Ina Garten from the Food Network



  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes, room temperature
  • 2½ cups raisins
  • 3 tablespoons caraway seeds
  • 2½ cups buttermilk
  • 1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter heavy ovenproof 10- to 12-inch-diameter skillet with 2- to 2 ½-inch-high sides.

Whisk first five ingredients in large bowl to blend. Add butter; using fingertips; rub in until coarse crumbs form. Stir in raisins and caraway seeds. Whisk buttermilk and egg in medium bowl to blend. Add to dough; using wooden spoon, stir just until well incorporated (dough will be very sticky).

Transfer dough to prepared skillet; smooth top, mounding slightly in center. Using small sharp knife dipped into flour, cut 1-inch-deep “X” in top center of dough. Bake until bread is cooked through and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool bread in skillet 10 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap tightly in foil; store at room temperature.)

Serves 8 to 10.

— Recipe from Bon Appetit



  • ½ pound all-purpose flour (organic preferred) (about 1¾ cups)
  • ½ pound whole wheat flour (about 1¾ cups)
  • Barely rounded teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 13 to 16 ounces buttermilk (depending on the consistency of the buttermilk)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix the flours in a large wide bowl; add the salt and sieved baking soda. Lift the flour up with your fingers to distribute the salt and baking soda.

Make a well in the center and pour in all the buttermilk. With your fingers stiff and outstretched, stir in a circular movement from the center to the outside of the bowl in ever increasing concentric circles. When you reach the outside of the bowl, seconds later the dough should be made.

Sprinkle a little flour on the worktop. Turn the dough out onto the floured worktop. (Fill the bowl with cold water so it will be easy to wash later.)

Sprinkle a little flour on your hands. Gently tidy the dough around the edges and transfer to oven tray. Tuck the edges underneath with your hand; gently pat the dough with your fingers into a loaf about 1½-inch thick. Now wash and dry your hands.

Cut a deep cross into the bread (this is called “blessing the bread”) and then prick it in the center of the four sections to let the fairies out of the bread.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 400 degrees for a further 15 minutes. Turn the bread upside down and cook for a further 5 to 10 minutes until cooked (the bottom should sound hollow when tapped). Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 1 loaf.

— Recipe by Darina Allen from Kerrygold



  • ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter
  • 3½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon ground black pepper, plus additional for topping
  • 1¾ cups buttermilk
  • 1 egg white, beaten to blend

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375 degrees.

Stir butter in heavy small saucepan over medium heat until melted and golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Stir flour, oats, sugar, rosemary, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ¾ teaspoon pepper in large bowl to blend. Pour buttermilk and melted browned butter over flour mixture; stir with fork until flour mixture is moistened.

Turn dough out onto floured work surface. Knead gently until dough comes together, about 7 turns. Divide in half. Shape each half into ball; flatten each into 6-inch round. Place rounds on ungreased baking sheet, spacing 5 inches apart. Brush tops with beaten egg white. Sprinkle lightly with ground black pepper. Using small sharp knife, cut ½-inch-deep “X” in top of each dough round.

Bake breads until deep golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool breads on rack at least 30 minutes.

Serve bread warm or at room temperature.

Note: You’ll get the most tender soda bread by kneading the dough gently and briefly, just until it comes together, so the gluten is minimally developed.

Makes 2 loaves.

— Recipe from Bon Appetit



  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 tablespoons (¾ stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 6 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, cut into 1/3-inch pieces
  • 6 ounces candied orange peel, diced
  • 1¼ cups buttermilk
  • 1 large egg

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; butter parchment.

Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Add butter; rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in chocolate and orange peel. Whisk buttermilk and egg in medium bowl to blend; add to dry ingredients. Stir just until incorporated.

Turn dough out onto floured work surface and knead gently just until dough comes together, about five turns. Form dough into 6½-inch-diameter round, about 2 to 2½ inches high. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Using sharp knife, cut 1-inch-deep, 3-inch-long slits in top of bread, forming sunburst pattern.

Bake bread until well browned and very firm when pressed and tester inserted into center comes out clean, turning baking sheet halfway through baking, about 1 hour 10 minutes total. Transfer bread to rack and cool completely, at least 3 hours. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap in foil and store at room temperature.)

Makes 1 large round loaf.

— Recipe from Bon Appetit

Contact reporter Heidi Knapp Rinella at Find more of her stories at and follow @HKRinella on Twitter.

This "Alice in Wonderland" cocktail changes colors and flavors while you sip
Take a tour of The Underground at The Mob Museum
Prince death investigation coming to an end
Prosecutors in Minnesota plan an announcement Thursday on the two-year investigation into Prince's death from a drug overdose Prince was 57 when he was found alone and unresponsive in an elevator at his Paisley Park estate on April 21, 2016. An autopsy found he died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl. Search warrants unsealed about a year after Prince died showed that authorities searched his home, cellphone records of associates and his email accounts to try to determine how he got the drug. The county attorney has scheduled a morning announcement at which time charges could be filed.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Big Bounce America visits North Las Vegas
Billing itself as "the biggest bounce house in the world," Big Bounce America visits Craig Ranch Regional Park in Las Vegas.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
Disneyland debuts new foods for Pixar Fest on Friday
Pixar Fest takes place ahead of California Adventure’s Pixar Pier expansion. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sneak Peek at New Decorations, Merch and Parade for Disneyland's Pixar Fest
Las Vegas Philharmonic celebrates 20th anniversary season
Orchestra’s 2018-19 season features premiere, more (Carol Cling/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Downtown Las Vegas' newest bar is a reggae lounge
Jammyland serves island-inspired cocktails. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 things connecting Las Vegas and Marilyn Monroe
1. Marilyn Monroe, known then as Norma Jeane, obtained her first divorce in Las Vegas at the age of 20 on September 13, 1946. 2. According to some biographers, Monroe lived at 604 S. 3rd Street for four months during the summer of 1946. The house has since been torn down and is now the site of a parking lot. 3. In 1954, Monroe almost married Joe DiMaggio in Las Vegas but the wedding was called off last minute. The wedding was to be held at the Hotel El Rancho Vegas which was located on the southwest corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. 4. Las Vegas has at least one road dedicated to the star. Marilyn Monroe Avenue is located in east Las Vegas and intersects with Betty Davis Street and Cary Grant Court. 5. There are currently more than 20 Marilyn Monroe impersonators for hire in the Las Vegas Valley.
This boozy milkshake is big enough to share with seven of your best friends
Fiddlestix makes an "8 Man Milkshake" that's packed with alcohol. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five Chris Stapleton songs you need to hear
D. Michael Evola opened E-String to make New York style pizza
Shamrock Macarons at Morels at Palazzo
Zuma serves a sushi roll topped with 24-karat gold
La Cirque covers their quail and foie gras in real gold
Jean-Georges Steakhouse seves chocolate gold bars
3 ways you can eat gold in Las Vegas
Artist Kathleen Nathan On The Virtues Of Library Galleries
The Las Vegas-Clark County Library District’s art galleries offers artists a more relaxed vibe for showing their work. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada SPCA Competes In Tournament Of Tails
The NSPCA and its mascot cat, Prince, are competing in an online voting challenge for a $5,000 grand prize.
Red carpet at MGM for Dan Reynolds Believer screening
Kats on the red carpet for the VIP screening of "Believer," the documentary by Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds about how the Mormon Church treats its LGBTQ members.
Eureka's cocktail comes with a "buzz button" that will shock your taste buds
‘The Sopranos’ Prequel Film Confirmed
‘The Sopranos’ Prequel Film Confirmed Deadline reports that New Line has purchased Chase and Lawrence Konner’s screenplay for their “Sopranos” prequel film. The working title for the prequel is “The Many Saints of Newark.” Chase created the HBO series, which ran for six seasons, and Konner served as a writer. “The Many Saints of Newark” is set during the 1960s riots in the New Jersey city between the African-American and Italian communities. Multiple characters from the series, albeit younger versions, are expected to star in the film. The Sopranos won 21 Primetime Emmy Awards and five Golden Globe Awards during its run.
The Big Bounce America is coming to the Las Vegas Valley
The Big Bounce America. (Courtesy Big Bounce America)
The 90th Oscars Were the Least Watched in History
The 90th Oscars Were the Least Watched in History According to The Hollywood Reporter, 26.5 million watched the Oscars, a 20 percent drop from last year. The 26.5 million viewers would be an all-time low for the Oscars. Overnight returns had the lengthy ABC telecast averaging a 18.9 rating among households between 8 and 11 p.m. ET. Last year, 32.9 million viewers tuned in to watch the ceremony. The previous low for viewership was 32 million viewers in 2008 when Jon Stewart was host. The Shape of Water picked up an award for Best Picture, while Gary Oldman and Frances McDormand won Best Actor and Actress, respectively.
March First Friday theme is “Think”
First Friday art, culture, music and food event takes place on the first Friday of every month in and around the studios and galleries of the Arts District in downtown Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon)
Cirque’s One Night for One Drop gets ready for the big night
Cirque du Soleil’s “One Night for One Drop” performed a dress rehearsal for the annual benefit show. This year’s show at Mandalay Bay is based on the life of singer-songwriter Jewel. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The Kosher Experience provides kosher foods to Las Vegas families
2018-19 Broadway Las Vegas at The Smith Center
Ten touring productions are on The Smith Center’s 2018-19 Broadway Las Vegas season schedule. (The Smith Center)
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Calvary Christian Learning Academy, “There was no fair warning.”
Samantha O’Brien, whose three-year-old daughter attended the Calvary Christian Learning Academy daycare, found out Monday night when her daughter’s teacher called about the school closing.
Companies bet their futures on cryptocurrency
Two Las Vegas entrepreneurs talk about finding their niche in blockchain enabled technologies and digital currency.
Solar panels reduce energy bill for CCSD
Wilbur and Theresa Faiss Middle School is one of 42 CCSD schools with solar panel installations, saving approximately $514,000 per year in energy costs.
News Headlines
Local Spotlight
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like