There is something so beautiful about simple, honest food. When you use your own hands to prepare a loaf of bread, from start to finish, and you craft it and form it, you can give a sigh of supreme satisfaction when you pull it piping hot from the oven, knowing that you made it, yourself. This bread is based on a traditional Irish Soda bread recipe– its homey, simple taste and chewy golden crust can accompany any meal or stand alone, as a humble breakfast treat. This bread recipe is one borne in my very bones . . . reminiscent of when my English and Irish ancestors used to mix together this simple loaf, every day, to accompany their breakfast porridge and afternoon tea. Leftovers could be soaked in tea or milk to make the forerunner of “coffee soup,” here in America. If you’ve ever had coffee soup, then you may just hail from PA, and I’m just so proud that you know what it is. 😉
But no matter what your heritage, and no matter what your baking skill level, you can make this bread. This bread is not flashy or fancy or gourmet. It is a simple, rustic loaf adorned with simple dried fruit and baked to golden brown perfection. So bake yourself a loaf, today. Cut yourself a nice, warm slice, make a generous cup of tea or coffee, and go have your breakfast by a sunny window. These are the simple, beautiful things in life– take time to savor every bit.
What are we waiting for? Let’s do this!
Irish Honey Breakfast Bread
(adapted from Taste of Home)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. cold butter or margarine
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup raisins or craisins (or dried fruit of choice)
In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in cold butter and stir in honey, eggs, buttermilk, and raisins just until combined. Place dough on a floured silpat and do the “business fold” 4 times, flouring the rolling pin well each time. Pat the dough into a flattened circle about 1 1/2″ thick. Use a sharp knife to slash a cross into the top of the loaf and brush loaf with egg wash. Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes, until loaf is golden brown and toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
This recipe is super easy, and it will be finished in a flash! 🙂 To start, get yourself a mixing bowl and put in your flour, brown sugar, baking power, baking soda, and salt. Whisk those ingredients together so that they are combined before you add in the wet ingredients.
Next, go ahead and cut in your cold butter. I am using this Perfect Pie Blender pastry cutter, which is head and shoulders above any pastry blender I have ever tried– mainly because of its flat bottom surface, which makes it so easy to squish butter right up against the bottom of your bowl. Pastry blenders are like a good big brother– they take the big guy that’s hassling you and cut him down to size. Thanks to your faithful pastry blender, the butter will be meek little pieces in no time, ready to go to bat for you and your bread. So treat yourself to this little beauty– you deserve it. Get the Perfect Pie Pastry cutter here.
Now, we are going to stir in the wet ingredients, but let me just mention a quick trick. If you don’t have any buttermilk (I don’t usually have this on hand), then you can make your own buttermilk substitute out of regular milk. Put the amount of regular milk you need into a bowl and drizzle in a few tsp. of vinegar (either apple cider vinegar or white vinegar will work just fine). The vinegar will slightly curdle the milk, making a fine buttermilk substitute for baking– and buttermilk makes everything more tender and awesome. So now you know how to tenderize a grumpy relative– sneak buttermilk into his bread. hehe. Sorry. O_O Serious.
When you have added your vinegar to the milk, let the milk sit for a few minutes while you add the other ingredients. Then, add your beaten eggs, honey, buttermilk, and raisins to the dry mixture and use a butter knife to stir just until the dry ingredients are combined.
Next, it’s time to do our biscuit “business fold.” Come on– you knew all those English classes in school about writing and folding business letters would come in handy! 😉 This dough, at its heart, is basically a quick bread, like a huge biscuit. That means that, if you want your loaf to be tender and flaky, you need to handle it as little as possible. So instead of kneading our dough, we are going to “business fold” it, exactly like we did when we made Buttermilk biscuits, here. Flour the surface of your dough, and then, using a floured rolling pin, roll your dough into a rectangle. Then, fold the dough rectangle over on itself into thirds, exactly like you were folding a business letter. Re-flour and re-roll the dough, then “business fold” it, again. Repeat this process 4 times, making sure to keep your dough floured on the bottom, as well, so it doesn’t stick. Each time you fold the dough, you are making many tiny, flaky layers. YUM.
When you have finished folding your dough 4 times, pat it lightly into a rough circle and flatten it with the rolling pin to about 1.5″ thick. Use a sharp knife to slash a cross into the top for a traditional Irish design. If you’d rather, you can leave it plain. Heck . . . scratch your initials into it, if you want. I won’t tell 😉 You’re the chef! 🙂
When you have slashed your design into the top (if you want a design on it), go ahead and brush the entire loaf with egg wash. An egg wash it just 1 beaten egg mixed with about a tsp. of water. Use a pastry brush to dab the egg mixture overtop of the bread– make sure that you get all the sides, as well. Aww– look at that sweet little loaf. Isn’t it sweet?
Bake the loaf, uncovered, at 375 for roughly 35-40 minutes, rotating loaf halfway through baking to ensure even browning. Don’t just pull the loaf out when it looks brown, though– make sure that a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If the loaf is really brown, and the center is still a little doughy, then just cover the loaf with foil and bake for another 5-7 minutes, until the center is completely done. That egg wash will give it a gorgeous, golden color. Mmmm. Who says only the goose can make golden eggs? 🙂
At that point, allow your bread to cool on a cooling rack. Look at that amazingly golden, beautiful crust. Slice yourself a piece of delicious, humble goodness. Drizzle a little bit of honey on the top, and make yourself a nice, hot cup of tea. Take a bit of time to savor the moment and enjoy the beautiful food that you have created. There is something that feeds the soul, as well as the body, when you eat truly good, wholesome food. This bread reminds me of sitting down in a sunny, farmhouse kitchen, with sunshine streaming through the windows and clothes drifting lazily in the breeze. So take a bite, close your eyes, and feel the sun on your face. Make a beautiful memory.
Because you did it. And I’m just so proud of you.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which just means that we get a few pennies if you purchase through our link. I never recommend products that I don't personally use and love. Thanks!