Friday, April 10, 2015

Irish Molasses Bread

by Sheila Connolly

Another gem from the Irish Pub Cookbook (don’t worry—I’ll run out of new ones soon).

A word about the Irish and their bread. I’ve traveled in Ireland a number of times and visited different areas; I’ve attended Irish events in the greater Boston area, most often hosted by native-born Irish. With very few exceptions, any event ends with an cupán tae and some bread. The basic bread is arán donn, or brown bread, which appears at every meal in Ireland and a few times in between. If it’s a fancier event you get arán sióde (soda bread), which has currants or raisins in it and is sweeter. This recipe is kind of a blend between the two: it has raisins and currants, but it’s dark and not too sweet—and it goes well with tea!

In Ireland it’s rude to turn down the offer of tea and bread, so sit back and enjoy it. And don’t forget the butter!

Irish Treacle Bread

3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
10 Tblsp butter
6 Tblsp molasses
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup currants
2/3 cup golden raisins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line a 9-inch loaf pan.

Sift the flour, baking soda, and spices into a bowl. Lightly rub in the butter until the mixture forms fine crumbs.
Dry ingredients with butter rubbed in

My vintage sifter--it's big!

Whisk the molasses with the eggs and the buttermilk, then stir in the sugar. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture then pour in the molasses mixture. Mix with a fork, gradually drawing in the flour from around the edges.

Add the currants and the golden raisins and mix to a soft dough. Spoon the dough into the loaf pan, leveling the surface with a wet spatula.

Bake in the preheated oven for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and let cool for about two hours.

Serve with plenty of butter!

Coming in June: the next of the Museum Mysteries, Privy to the Dead.

What does Nell Pratt find in the privy (don't you want to know? It's not what you think!), and what does that have to do with the hit-and-run death of a man outside the building?

Available for pre-order at Amazon and Barnes & Noble



  1. I'll be right over for tea and some bread! See you in a bit!

  2. I am jealous of your marvelous sifter!
    This looks delicious.
    I'm with Elaine--we will both be over.

    I'd love to tour Ireland with you. You know how to see "real" Ireland, not the tourist facade.

    1. And I'll provide the tea and bread for you both! (I even have Barry's teabags on hand.)

      The West of Cork is a great place to see the real Ireland, although that's not to say that it isn't modern too (wi-fi! cell phones! great restaurants!). It's kind of like being in a time warp, with the old overlapping the new. The Skibbereen farmers' market is a great example: it's been going on for something like 150 years and still sells live chickens and ducks, but it also has artisinal cheeses and locally smoked salmon--and an espresso vendor that operates out of the back of his van. (And Jeremy Irons lives down the road.)

      It might be fun to plan a trip--take over the whole of the Leap Inn (which has about ten rooms total) and just ramble around. And eat.

    2. My husband and I would join you in a heartbeat!

  3. I'm coming, too, Elaine! I think it's charming that it's considered rude to turn down bread and butter. Oddly enough, my father (definitely not Irish) used to make a bread that was similar to this.

    1. Hospitality still matters there. I found myself sitting in the back room at Connolly's, with Eileen Connolly (her father Mick named the place, but it was a pub before him), with a cup of tea and a plate of cake, her cat on my lap and her Irish wolfhound basking by the fire. We talked about the history of the place and what her son wants to do with it. And she's younger than I am!

      On another trip with a friend, we rented a small cottage. Her family was kind enough to drive us around and show us the area, so at the end of our trip we insisted on serving them tea and cake. I think we surprised them.

  4. what fun Sheila! The bread resembles gingerbread recipe. which makes me think it might be good with fresh ginger?

    1. Could be! And using treacle (if you can find any) might make it a little lighter. BTW, this one keeps well.

  5. It looks great, Sheila. I love what you are finding in this cookbook. It lets me have a vicarious visit to Ireland.



    1. It's a great combination of traditional and modern. And I've just learned that there's a new cafe in the new arts center in Skibbereen--something else to try!