brown butter soda bread & cranberry walnut butter

If you haven’t had soda bread, now’s the time to try it.  There’s no yeast in the mix.  No strenuous kneading required …just a brief and gentle knead.  The result is an airy cake-like bread with a crunchy exterior.  Savory and not-too-sweet.  Begging for a generous schmear of butter and fruit preserves.  Or some yummy cranberry walnut butter, perhaps?  Let’s start with that butter…

The softened butter is whipped until it is light and fluffy.  Fold in the chopped cranberries, walnuts & honey.  Season to taste with a bit of salt.  Tastes pretty darn good, wouldn’t you say?  I like to save a few pieces of chopped cranberries and walnuts to use as a garnish.

Keep this recipe handy.  I discovered it on a food site called Billy Parisi.  He’s a chef and features this butter in a post for a homemade rye bread that looks amazing …may be trying that one at a later date.  I tweaked it a smidge by making mine a bit sweeter.  But really, try this butter on toasted bagels.  Or spread on a slice of pumpernickel bread.  Here’s another thought …a piping hot baked sweet potato.  Break it open and smear a generous amount on top.  Okay, I’ll stop there.  It’s time to talk about bread.

Soda bread is a “quick bread” traditionally made in a variety of cuisines in which baking soda is used as the leavening agent instead of yeast.  The ingredients of traditional soda bread are flour, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk. The buttermilk in the dough contains lactic acid, which reacts with the baking soda to form tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide.  Sounds so technical but it works.  Soda bread can be prepared quickly and reliably without the time and labor required with traditional yeast bread.

For this recipe (which is from Bon Appétit), we are enhancing the texture and heartiness with the addition of oats.  The flavor gets a boost from brown butter and fresh rosemary.  Get the butter melted on the stove until it turns a golden brown.  Watch it carefully …it only takes a few minutes.

In the meantime, the dry ingredients are mixed in a large bowl.  The brown butter and buttermilk are added.  And you have your bread dough.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and gently knead it until it comes together.  It’ll happen in six or seven turns.  Really.  

Divide the dough into two equal balls.  Flatten them a bit.  Brush the tops with an egg white wash.  Cut an X pattern in each.  And that’s it.  They’re ready for the oven.  No waiting for them to rise.  You’re about an hour away from enjoying your homemade soda bread.


brown butter soda bread & cranberry walnut butter

Full of texture and flavor, serve this bread along with this delicious flavored butter.  Perfect for breakfast or an afternoon snack.

Servings 2 loaves


Cranberry Walnut Butter

  • 1 cup softened unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped walnuts
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • kosher salt to taste

Brown Butter Soda Bread

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus additional for topping
  • 1 3/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 egg white, beaten to blend for egg wash


Cranberry Walnut Butter

  1. Add the butter to a medium bowl.  With a hand mixer, beat on high speed until the butter becomes light and fluffy, about 5 to 7 minutes.

  2. Fold in the cranberries, walnuts & honey.  Add salt to taste.

Brown Butter Soda Bread

  1. Position rack in center of the oven and preheat to 375°F.  

  2. Stir butter in a heavy small saucepan over medium heat until melted and golden brown, about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat.

  3. Stir flour, oats, sugar, rosemary, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in large bowl to blend.  Pour buttermilk and melted browned butter over flour mixture; stir with a fork until flour mixture is moistened.
  4. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface.  Knead gently until dough comes together, about 7 turns.  Divide in half.  Shape each half into a ball; flatten each into a 6-inch round.  Place rounds on an ungreased baking sheet, spacing 5 inches apart.  Brush tops with beaten egg white.  Sprinkle lightly with ground black pepper.  Using a small sharp knife, cut a 1/2-inch-deep X on top of each dough round.
  5. Bake until deep golden brown and tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.  Cool breads on rack at least 30 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature along with the cranberry walnut butter.

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