I am beyond excited to finally share this blog post with you. It includes a lovely recipe for my Irish Coffee Soda Bread Pudding, plus all the dreamy details of my trip to Ireland earlier this year. Hopefully you’ll feel like you’re on the quaint, beautiful island of Ireland as you read this right from your home.
If you’ve been following along, you may have read that at the end of January this year, I traveled across the world for a culinary journey of a lifetime to Ireland. The trip was part of a really exciting project with Bake from Scratch Magazine, Tourism Ireland, and Williams Sonoma that’s all starting to come together.
Myself and four other wonderful food bloggers are writing about our experience, we hosted cooking demos at our local Williams Sonoma in March sharing our Ireland-inspired recipes, AND the Bake from Scratch Magazine’s Irish issue is now out in the world! It’s been such an amazing collaboration to be a part of, and as I write this, I’m brought right back to our time together experiencing all the magic Ireland has to offer.
a taste of ireland
The really cool part about this trip was that we saw SO much of the island. We started over in Dublin, made our way down south through Ireland’s Ancient East to Cork, then up west along the Wild Atlantic Way to Galway, and back over east to Dublin. It was a full adventure, with many stops along the way, a different place to stay every night, and so much beautiful land to take in. A few highlights…
Our culinary adventure started with a Dublin bakery tour. We immediately were struck with the rich history and stories of each baker, and of course with all the incredibly delicious baking. We spent a morning exploring the historic Powerscourt Gardens and snacking on classic sausage rolls & mushroom soup.
We made our way to the legendary Ballymaloe Cookery School for a baking session and a traditional Irish lunch (with some of the best-tasting food I’ve ever had). We hopped over to the Cork city center for a tour of the English Market, made our way to McCarthy Farm for a behind the scenes look into the making of Five Farms Irish Cream, and then finished at Clonakilty Distillery to see the process behind their Irish Whiskey.
My absolute favorite experience was afternoon tea at Adare Manor in Country Limerick, the loveliest Irish tradition that I’d like to adopt here at home. An entire afternoon devoted to relaxing, sipping tea, possibly champagne too, and snacking on savory bites and sweet treats. All from the most magnificent dining room. Over in Galway we embarked on a food tour, then made our way to the iconic Ashford Castle. One of the final adventures was a trip to Kylemore Abbey where we learned all about their sustainable food gardens and made chocolate in Sister Genevieve’s Chocolate Kitchen.
foraging at Ashford Castle
With all the rich, abundant land around us, I was thrilled we were able to go along with the chefs of Ashford castle on their daily forage in the woods. The tall, moss-covered trees, the dewy smell in the air, and the beautiful variety of items we found…it was an otherworldly experience. I’ve always been intrigued by the connection of foraging and cooking, and this brought everything into perspective.
Some ingredients found in the woods:
● elf cup mushrooms
● wild peas
● edible flowers
● wild leeks
● crab apples
The next morning, Chef Philippe cooked up the bright red mushrooms with pan-fried pâte à choux gnocchi and wild garlic. From land to plate, the dish captured the essence of Ireland perfectly.
the restaurant scene
Between the city spots, pubs full of character, and resort fine-dining…we truly got a full taste of Ireland’s restaurant scene and the genuine hospitality of the people who make it special.
Below I’ve listed some of the restaurant highlights from our trip.
Not knowing much about Irish cuisine, I went in with eyes wide open. I was overwhelmed with the diverse food culture and the abundance of fresh products. There’s a huge focus on local ingredients, with the land being so rich and the sea being so close. Seasonal cooking is prominent, high-quality meat and seafood is abundant, and superior dairy like butter and cream from grass-fed cows is the norm. It was evident that the quality of all the dishes prepared in each restaurant was influenced by the freshness of the beautiful ingredients used to prepare it. I was so excited to see this, especially since Irish cuisine seems to go under the radar.
The variety of the cuisine was unique and unexpected, and in ways made even more special by the stories told by those who prepared it. From an elegant plate of local scallops to a rustic platter of fish & chips, I enjoyed it all.
Bread41 (Dublin) – An organic bakery that makes everything from wholesome bread, fresh butter, seasonal jams, and many different fermented foods. We tasted a little of their menu and had the MOST incredible almond croissants. This team is all about the details, and it shows in the food they produce.
Sika at Powerscourt Hotel (Wicklow) – Quintessential Irish cuisine, with an elegant touch. We savored a three-course meal of our choice (mine consisting of scallops with celeriac puree, a rib eye with squash and apple, and a magnificent chocolate, milk foam, and honeycomb dessert).
The Bell Tower’s “A Taste of Cork” Dinner at Castlemartyr (Cork) – What a special dinner. We were blown away by the hospitality and attention to detail. We feasted on pan-fried ballycotton scallops with curried cauliflower & sherry caramel, roast venison “wellington” with smoked jerusalem artichoke and red wine salsify, and a chamomile honey parfait.
Fishy Fishy (Kinsale) – In the heart of Ireland’s “culinary capital” sits Fishy Fishy, where all the seafood is caught within 5 miles of the restaurant. Chef Martin Shanahan expressed such pride in his cuisine, focused on sourcing the best possible ingredients, and it showed through the taste of each dish. My favorite? The pan-fried local prawns with lemon, sweet chili & parsley cream.
Aunty Lena’s Pub (Limerick) – A classic pub meal, complete with live music and a tour of the historic building. You could feel the magic in the atmosphere, which made the traditional fare even better. I went for a burger made of chuck & brisket with Irish cheddar, slow cooked onions, and Lena’s house chips on the side.
Tartare (Galway) – The first stop on our Galway city food tour was this quaint little spot, home to one of Ireland’s leading chefs, JP McMahon. His mission is to showcase the rich emerging food culture that Irish cuisine has to offer. He cooks “contemporary Irish food” with a product-driven approach. We had an outstanding meal of cheddar scones, beef tartare, extremely fresh oysters, and crab salad on brown bread.
George V at Ashford Castle (County Mayo) – Our “celebration” dinner to conclude our trip on the most memorable note. Seated at a large oval table in the George V dining room, we all were truly in heaven. A meal with not a single detail missed, from the service to the wine to the impeccable food…hinted with tastes of the woods. We enjoyed woodland mushroom agnolotti with parsley & lovage veloute and aged parmesan, celeriac soup, wild venison with quince and kohlrabi, and the most decadent chocolate bavarois for dessert by pastry chef Paula Stakelum.
The most memorable part of every single meal? The homemade bread, always with a smear of insanely delicious Irish butter.
irish coffee soda bread pudding – the inspiration
My Irish coffee soda bread pudding was inspired mainly by our baking session making soda bread with the iconic Darina Allen at her quaint, award-winning Ballymaloe Cookery School. I had never made or really had proper Irish soda bread before. We learned her traditional method and fun tricks like pricking the dough to “let the fairies out” of it. The bread came together so quickly and in under an hour we had hot, steaming, freshly baked bread in our hands. The taste was so pure, and of course made even better slathered with softened Irish butter.
I decided to turn her soda bread into a bread pudding, with the last bit of inspiration coming from the famous Irish coffee drink that we were offered many, many times throughout our trip. Irish Coffee is made of hot coffee, brown sugar, Irish whiskey, and slightly whipped heavy cream. I took these components and wrapped them up into a cozy baked treat that reminds me of all the iconic comfort foods we enjoyed on the trip…perfect for either breakfast or dessert.
It’s Irish soda bread and rich custard baked into a sweet bread pudding, flavored with coffee, topped with softly whipped cream, and drizzled with an Irish whiskey caramel sauce. Heaven.
If you’ve fallen in love just like me, I’m thrilled to share that Tourism Ireland is giving away the ultimate “Authentic Ireland” trip for two, with stays at some of the incredible places we visited and experiences to last a lifetime. You can enter the sweepstakes HERE. A winner will be drawn in November.
And as for me, I’m simply dreaming of the day I can go back. Sláinte!Print
Irish Coffee Soda Bread Pudding
soda bread and rich custard baked into a sweet bread pudding, flavored with coffee, topped with softly whipped cream, and drizzled with irish whiskey caramel
recipe for Bake from Scratch Magazine
Irish Soda Bread
(courtesy of Darina Allen)
- 1 lb all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 ¾ cups buttermilk
- 4 large eggs
- ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 tbsp espresso powder
- 1 tbsp hot water
- 2 cups whole milk
- ½ cup brewed coffee, chilled
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 loaf irish soda bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 tbsp sugar in the raw
- garnish: powdered sugar
Irish Whiskey Caramel
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temp
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream, at room temp
- ¼ cup Irish whiskey
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup cold heavy cream
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
Irish Soda Bread
- Preheat the oven to 450°F.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda until well combined. Make a well in the center, and add the buttermilk. Using your hands like a claw, mix buttermilk into dry ingredients until a ball of dough forms (the dough should be sticky and slightly clumpy).
- Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and gently shape it into a ball. Transfer it to a lightly floured baking sheet. Pat the dough into a 1½-inch-thick disk. Using a knife, cut an “X” across the top of the dough. Using the tip of the knife, prick a hole into each of the 4 sections of dough.
- Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 400°F. Bake for 15 minutes more. Turn the bread upside down, and bake for 5 minutes more. Transfer the bread to a cutting board, and let cool for 30 minutes, or until cool enough to handle.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 2-quart baking dish.
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the brown sugar, and whisk until smooth.
- In a small bowl, whisk together espresso powder and 1 tablespoon of hot water until dissolved. Add to egg mixture, whisking to combine. Add the milk, coffee, vanilla, and salt, whisking until incorporated.
- Add the bread cubes and toss well. Pour into the prepared dish, spreading evenly. Submerge the bread and let soak for 1 hour.
- Cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers at least 165°F (74°C), about 15 minutes more. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
- Serve warm with irish whiskey caramel and whipped cream (recipes below). Garnish with a dusting of powdered sugar, if desired.
Irish Whiskey Caramel
- In a 2-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Whisk until smooth. Cook over medium heat, without stirring, until melted and a golden-amber color. Remove from heat.
- Whisk in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Add the cream and whiskey and stir to combine. Return the mixture to medium heat and simmer, stirring frequently, for about 3-4 minutes.
- Stir in the salt and remove from the heat. Let cool slightly before serving. If caramel cools completely, it will thicken. Simply reheat it to loosen, if needed.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the cream until foamy.
- Add the sugar, and beat until soft peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use.
This post is sponsored by Bake from Scratch Magazine, Tourism Ireland, and Williams Sonoma. All opinions are my own!