Bacon, yes, Bacon Irish Soda Bread. This recipe is inspired by a recipe 100 years old and it’s delicious. It leaves you fighting for the crispy bacon-y edges and makes a perfect loaf to serve with a pot of Irish Stew or corned beef and cabbage, or my new recipe on this site, Dublin Coddle (another bacon-y sausage-y delight).
I love Irish Soda bread. I love it’s crusty exterior and it’s soft interior. I love it plain, I love it with currants and seeds, and now I love it topped with bacon. I recently picked up a very interesting cookbook called Irish Traditional Cooking: Over 300 Recipes from Ireland’s Heritage. I love learning about Irish cooking, partly because the food is just yummy and partly because I am part Irish myself. In this book I found this idea for a variation of Irish Soda bread that I knew I had to try. Apparently the Irish think that everything is better with bacon too!
The concept is simple. You crisscross bacon on top of Irish Soda bread and as it cooks, the flavor and fat of that bacon soak into the bread leaving a delightful treat. The idea came from a 70 year old woman who said that her grandmother made it this way. So this idea is over a hundred years old! I call this a traditional recipe then.
I’ve combined below some of the tips I learned from the Irish Traditional Cookbook and what has worked for me in the past. I wouldn’t use the cheapest possible bacon in this recipe as you don’t want to completely saturate the bread with grease. I used Beeler’s bacon which had a nice amount of grease with enough meat to look beautiful on top of the bread.
Bacon Irish Soda Bread (makes one large loaf)
4 cups of whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup of rolled oatmeal
1/4 cup of butter, or non-hydronated palm shortening (coconut oil could work as well)
1 ½ cups of buttermilk or 1 ½ cups of warm water with 2 tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons of unrefined salt.
8 slices of bacon
Bake 450 degrees for 15 minutes, and then 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes more
20 minutes plus ten minutes, plus ten (cover with foil), plus another ten.
1) The night before combine the flour and oatmeal and cut in the butter, shortening or coconut oil. Add the buttermilk or the water and vinegar. Gently mix together. If too dry to form a soft ball, add more water or buttermilk until the consistency is a soft dough. You do not want it to be tough or dry otherwise it will be too hard to work with in the next step. Cover airtight using a lid on a bowl or plastic wrap and leave in a warm place overnight.
2) The next morning, place your dough on the counter and flatten. Sprinkle the salt and baking soda over the dough and gently knead into a ball, until you feel that the salt and baking soda is distributed. Form into a ball and then press out into a round shape about 2 inches high. Cut a cross on the top and then crisscross the bacon over the top. Place on a buttered baking sheet.
3) Put in the oven for 15 minutes and then reduce heat to 400 degrees. Cook for another 30 minutes. Cover with foil, if needed and then cook until done (about another 10 to 20 minutes). You will know it’s done when it’s nicely browned and the bottom sounds hollow when knocked.
4) Cool on a cooling rack. This tastes best when warm, not hot. (cool for about 30-45 minutes).Cut into thick slices, and then cut in half for a serving size.