I really don’t like Soda Bread.
Soda Bread is a traditional Irish bread that usually makes an appearance or two this time of year. Break out the Irish spirit and Irish food, and Soda Bread will be there. It will be there, but I won’t eat it. It’s just not my thing. Maybe I just haven’t had good Soda Bread, but my experiences (and I’ve tried many) have left me unimpressed, and thirsty. It’s always so darn dry! Maybe it’s the reason so many people drink on St. Patrick’s Day!
This year, I wanted to try out an alternative to the traditional. Something that still had a some Irish spirit, but a something that I actually enjoyed and didn’t mind wasting the carbs on.
This recipe is one of those home-grown recipes that I’ve seen in magazines and cookbooks for years, but I’d never tried it before. It always intrigued me, though. You don’t run into many breads that call for cottage cheese and are baked in a casserole dish. I saw this freshened up version in Cook’s Country magazine and decided to give it a try. I figured the fresh dill speckled bread might just be a great alternative for my St. Patrick’s Day table, and after trying it, I’ve decided that I was right!
Before I got my dough together, I mashed up some small curd cottage cheese in a small bowl.
For some reason, according to the magazine, not mashing the cottage cheese can leave you with a loaf with a giant hole right through the middle. Taking this simple step assures that your Dilly bread won’t have a tunnel.
Once that was done, I prepped my dough. There are a couple of extra little steps. Nothing too out of the ordinary, but this is a yeast dough, so it takes a little time, and love, to come together properly.
Once the dough was together, I put it into a greased bowl, covered it with some plastic wrap, and placed it in my turned off (but warm…see instructions) oven to rise for about an hour, until it had doubled in size.
After that first rise, I stirred the dough to break up any air bubbles, and placed it into a greased 1 1/2-quart casserole dish.
It went back into the oven to rise for about twenty minutes more, until it looked like this…
Once the dough had risen, I turned my oven on and let it heat to 350*F.
The bread baked for about 25 minutes, until it was beautifully golden brown. When I took it out of the oven, I brushed it with a mixture of butter and more chopped fresh dill.
I let the bread cool in the dish for a bit, and then removed it from the dish to cool completely before serving.
The bread was surprisingly delicious. I had a feeling it would be good, but I didn’t realize how good, and fresh it would taste. It is a dense bread, but unlike Soda Bread, it’s incredibly moist and light. The fresh dill gives it a wonderful flavor, and I loved all of its festive little green speckles.
Is it Irish? Not really, but oh well. I’m not Irish either, and I think I’m still OK.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
DILLY CASSEROLE BREAD
Adapted from Cook’s Country
- 1 cup small curd cottage cheese
- ¼ cup water
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. unsalted butter, softened
- 1-2 Tbsp. minced onion
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 2¼ tsp. instant or rapid-rise yeast
- 2½ Tbsp, minced fresh dill
- 1 tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. baking soda
- Adjust the rack in your oven to the lower middle position. Heat the oven to 200 degrees. When it reaches 200, turn the oven off.
- Grease a large bowl and a 1½ quart casserole/souffle dish.
- Using a potato masher, mash the cottage cheese a bit to break up some of the curds.
- Combine the cottage cheese, water, sugar, 1 Tbsp. butter, and the onion in a 2-cup measuring cup. Microwave the mixture until it comes to 110*F, about 30-45 seconds. Whisk in the egg until combined.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, mix 1¼ cup flour, the yeast, 2 Tbsp. of the dill, the salt, and baking soda on low-speed until combined. Slowly add the cottage cheese mixture, and mix until the dough just comes together, about 1 minute. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the remaining 1 cup of flour until just combined.
- Transfer the dough into the prepared bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and place it in the turned-off oven until the dough has doubled in size, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Stir the dough to remove the air bubbles, and transfer the dough to the prepared dish. Cover loosely with plastic wrap again and place it back in the turned-off oven until doubled in size again, about 20 minutes.
- Remove the dish from the oven and discard the plastic. Heat the oven to 350*. Bake the loaf until it is a deep golden brown, about 25 minutes.
- Combine the remaining dill with the remaining 1 tsp. butter in a small bowl. Brush the butter mixture over the baked bread.
- Let the bread cool in the dish for 20 minutes. Remove the bread from the dish and cool completely on a rack before serving.