Friends can I show you the bread that I’ve been making all quarantine behind the scenes?
It’s the sort of recipe that seems too simple to actually work. Suspiciously easy and unbelievably comforting – that’s the combo I’m after. I also expect my recipes to be super versatile in case I want to add cheese by the handful to the dough. Here’s the thing – I want it ALL and that can’t be asking for too much.
Truth be told, this is just an Irish Soda Bread. Other truth be told, Irish Soda Bread is magic.
I started making this bread early in the days of quarantine when yeast was hard to come by because everyone was a bornagain bread baker. Thankfully there’s more than one way to bring bread out of the oven and this is the easiest and most Irish way.
(I was in actual Ireland a year ago this week and wow what a big deal a year can be.)
Here’s what you’ll need for this bread:
• all-purpose flour and cornmeal. I love the bit of texture that cornmeal adds to this bread but if you don’t have it on hand, you can just add the same amount of all-purpose flour.
• salt and baking soda. Flavor and balance from the salt. UMPH from baking soda. That’s a technical term.
• whole fat Greek yogurt is key. This bread needs the richness from whole fat dairy AND the acid from yogurt. Because this recipe really has so few ingredients, they all play a pivotal role. Speaking of yogurt breads – these pita were the best I’ve ever made thanks to Greek yogurt.
• extras like: diced kalamata olives, chunks of feta cheese, and coarsely chopped fresh oregano. Irish bread but make it Greek. This bread is also delicious plain, with dried fruit, with loads of cheddar cheese and chili powder. You can do just about anything with this base.
• a beaten egg for egg wash to give the bread its crisp and golden crust.
Layer all of the ingredients in a large bowl.
Whisk together the dry ingredients. Make a well and add the yogurt. Add all of your toppings atop the yogurt.
Mix everything, the whole dang thing, together into a shaggy dough. This is the point in the bread where, if you’re anything like me, you’re thinking – there’s no way this is going to work. It’s too dry! That’s not exactly true.
Dump the dough out onto the counter and knead it into this relatively smooth ball. The kneading will help distribute the moisture so don’t be shy. You’ll start to feel the dough bounce back a bit. That’s the right move.
If you do feel like the dough is too cracked and dry, add a tablespoon of cool water and keep it moving. You just don’t want he dough to be overly sticky.
Place the dough in a lightly greased cast iron pan, slash a few lines into the bread for it to rise and grow, brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with fresh cracked black pepper.
The break will bake under a loose foil tent (so it doesn’t brown too quickly) for much of its time in the oven. After half an hour of baking, remove the foil so the bread browns to crisp and irresistible.
Crack out the fancy wine? I sure do! Life is short.
The hardest part is letting the bread cool to just warm before slicing it. Here’s where I tell you that this cooling period is important because the bread is still cooking. Here’s the part where you don’t listen to me and you slice into the piping hot bread and everything is still fine – the world is still on is axis.
Serve with salty soft butter. Serve with soup. Serve with eggs for weekend breakfast. After a few days past on the counter this bread loves to be toasted in butter before serving. There’s so many right ways to do this. I’m happy for us. This is all very good news. Happy Baking! xo
This recipe is adapted from Olive and Artisan!Print
Olive and Feta Irish Soda Bread
A simple loaf of yeast-free bread flavored with olives, feta, and oregano.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Total Time: 55 minutes
- Yield: 1 loaf serving 8 1x
- 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup fine cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups plain whole fat Greek yogurt
- 1/3 cup chopped kalamata olives
- 1/2 cup feta cheese crumbles
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
- fresh cracked black pepper
- 1 egg
- Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch cast iron skillet and set aside. If you don’t have cast iron pan, a cake pan will also work!
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, and baking soda together. Stir in the yogurt, olives, feta, and oregano all at once until a shaggy dough forms. Turn dough out onto a clean surface and knead just until the dough forms into a ball. The dough won’t be completely smooth but shouldn’t have any rough or dry patches. If you find dry bits, add a tablespoon of cool water. Flatten out the ball slightly and place on to the prepared pan. Use a sharp knife to slice a cross into the dough to allow the loaf to rise as it bakes.
- In a small bowl, whisk the egg with a splash of water and brush the egg mixture onto the dough. Sprinkle with fresh cracked black pepper. Loosely cover the pan with a foil tent, allowing enough room for the bread to expand.
- Place in the oven to bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10-12 minutes or until deeply golden brown. Remove from the pan and allow to cool for 20 minutes before slicing and serving with soft butter. Bread will last, well wrapped at room temperature for up to 4 days.