Mollie’s Irish Soda Bread

There is nothing more lovely than the aroma of freshly baking bread in the air. This smell lured us behind the bakery counter at our Greenbrae store yesterday to see what was in the oven.

We caught Herbert in action, who’s been with Mollie Stone’s for 12 years, mixing up a batch of Mollie’s Irish Soda Bread. We sell this wonderful bread year round, but demand skyrockets as St. Patrick’s Day approaches.

Keep reading to see how it’s made. If only we could offer smell-o-vision, too…

The first step is weighing out the dry ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda, sugar and 2 kinds of raisins. After carefully measuring each of these ingredients, Herbert adds them to the mixer, fitted with a dough hook.

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Next come the wet ingredients: butter and buttermilk. It’s hard to believe that this delectable bread has only seven ingredients.

Herbert chops the butter into smaller pieces so that it distributes evenly throughout the flour mixture, which he says is key to achieving the ideal tender texture for soda bread.

After the butter has had a chance to incorporate, it’s time to add buttermilk. Herbert uses his experienced eye to add it incrementally until the dough comes together. Even with the same amount of dry ingredients in every batch, the dough requires a slightly different amount of buttermilk to reach the perfect consistency. This is attributed to varying temperatures and humidity each day.

Once Herbert is pleased with the dough, he opens up the mixer to reveal a slightly sticky dough, flecked with raisins and ready to be kneaded into loaves.

Herbert portions the dough into equally sized amounts, and shapes each into a round loaf. Even while chatting with us, he works so quickly that his hands are a blur.

Now for the finishing steps. Herbert brushes an egg wash over each loaf, and scores the top with an “X” so they’ll rise nicely.

These little loaves go into the oven for an hour, teasing us with their heavenly scent. They emerge golden brown and are left to cool on the rack until they’re packaged up for you to take home.

We snagged one of the loaves, and enjoyed a piece while it was warm. It has a moist interior with a tender crumb to complement a caramelized crust. The next day, we toasted up slices with butter and jam for breakfast. We’re hooked.

Look for freshly baked Mollie’s Irish Soda Bread in all our stores, and thank you Herbert for sharing your tips and tricks with us!