Saturday, March 17, 2012

Easy Cheesy Onion Soda Bread

Cheddar onion soda bread
Cheddar-Onion Soda Bread
Instead of predictable Irish soda bread, make this moist, green-flecked Cheddar-Onion Soda Bread instead, and don't let anyone tell you it's not Irish:  This recipe uses some of Ireland's most common ingredients, including oatmeal, cheese (Ireland makes some great Cheddar-style and other cheeses) and onions (you can substitute leeks which are even more traditionally Irish). A soda bread made with traditional Irish ingredients qualifies as an Irish soda bread in my book.

From start to finish, this bread will take well under two hours to make--and under ONE hour if you use pre-shredded cheese or a food processor to shred the cheese, already have oat flour on hand, and you mix the bread in your stand mixer. That's hard to beat for wholesome, homemade bread!

The original recipe I used as the starting point for mine is this King Arthur Flour recipe for Cabot Cheddar Bread.  To increase the fiber content, I substituted 1 cup of oat flour for 1 cup of the all-purpose flour. This also added to the moistness of the bread, which is a good thing when using skim milk and non-fat yogurt. On the other hand, I think the oat flour added to the baking time: The original recipe said that a free-form round loaf should take only 35 to 40 minutes to bake, while my version took at least 50 minutes. But the discrepancy could also be due to my less-than-consistent oven, so I recommend keeping an eye on your loaf as the it approaches the end of the recommended baking time.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup oat flour*
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 Tbs cold unsalted butter, cut into pats (easiest done when butter is VERY cold)
8 oz Cheddar cheese (I used aged, very sharp Cabot cheddar), shredded
3/4 cup chopped spring onion tops or green onion tops (just the green parts - I used "baby" Vidalia onion tops)
3/4 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup skim milk (preferably organic)
1 large egg
Optional: A little milk or beaten egg to brush on top, and a little bit of oats to sprinkle on top

*Note: To make oat flour, I simply process just over 1 cup of old-fashioned (not quick-cook or instant!) oats in my food processor until coarsely or finely ground as desired. You can also buy oat flour at natural food stores, but it has a much shorter shelf life so I prefer to make it as needed using old-fashioned oatmeal, which lasts longer.

Cheddar-onion Irish soda bread
Fresh from the oven
Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl whisk together the oat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add the butter, working it in until the mixture is crumbly (I use a large fork rather than my fingers so as to not warm the butter). Stir in the shredded cheese and green onions. In a small bowl, beat the egg and then whisk in the milk and yogurt. Add to the large bowl and mix together just until everything is moist and comes together into a stiff dough.  Form into a round or oblong loaf and place on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet (I used parchment paper). If desired, lightly brush the top with a little milk or egg wash and then sprinkle some oats on top (I gently pressed them down a bit with my fingers to help them stick).

Bake at 375°F until golden-brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean: This took me about 50 minutes but could take as little as 35 or 40 minutes, so I recommend keeping an eye on the bread after 35 minutes.  When the bread is done, remove the baking sheet from oven and let the bread sit for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer onto a rack to cool for at least 20 minutes before cutting.

Zestfully yours,

PS: If you are interested in Irish cheese or are looking for other fine cheeses to try, take a look at our Cheese and Cheese Gifts page, where you'll find a selection of interesting and flavorful domestic and imported cheeses, including an Irish cheese set with a wonderful sampling of genuine Irish cheeses.

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