How to Drink Guinness & Bake Irish Soda Bread

Living in Ireland and being married to an Irishman have taught me a lot of things about Guinness that as a Canadian, I didn’t know.

1. Guinness should always be drunk out of a tulip glass. (Pronounced chew-lip by my Irish husband). An Irish barman wouldn’t make the mistake of serving a pint of Guinness any other way but when travelling abroad, to my husband’s dismay, he has met some uninformed barmen serving Guinness incorrectly.

2. Guinness is temperamental. It doesn’t travel well, which means a shorter draw results in a better pint. In other words, the keg should be under the bar. Each pint of Guinness also needs to take a little rest when the glass is three-quarters full so that the pint can settle before being topped off with the famous Guinness head.

3. Irishmen don’t like to drink Guinness out of a can. They prefer to drink it by the pint in a pub. You can imagine my husband’s delight when I bought cans of Guinness for my family to drink last Christmas while staying with us in Dublin. He was even more delighted when he realised we only had one Guinness glass and out of politeness allowed my brother to drink from it while he drank canned Guinness from an oversized Ikea tumbler.

4. Guinness goes flat if left to sit for too long so you need to drink it quickly. Not a problem for most Irishmen. I also discovered that if you allow your toddler to roll cans of Guinness across your kitchen floor while you are making dinner (hey, it kept him amused), it will most definitely go flat. Irishmen don’t drink flat Guinness.

5. Guinness is not only a drink, it’s a food. It’s considered to be a meal in itself and it is used to flavour dishes like beef stew, smoked salmon and Irish soda bread. On an excursion to the Guinness Storehouse last year, my family and I had the pleasure of sampling some delicious Guinness soda bread in one of the restaurants. It was so delish, we took the recipe home (they leave them lying around for you to take) and baked it ourselves.

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With the onset of cold and wet November Irish weather, I decided it was time to bake some Guinness soda bread to accompany soups and stews. So, I resurrected the recipe we got from the Storehouse and picked up some cans of Guinness. For anyone unfamiliar with Irish soda bread, it is a dense yeast free bread traditionally served in Ireland. This recipe makes a moist and sweet loaf where the Guinness adds an extra depth of flavour.

Ingredients: 600g wholemeal flour (I used Odlums extra coarse), 150g plain flour, 75g oatmeal, 2.5 teaspoons of bread soda (baking soda or sodium bicarbonate), 1 teaspoon of salt, 2.5 tablespoons of brown sugar, 40g unsalted butter softened, 480ml milk, 200ml black treacle (to Canadians and Americans this is molasses) and 1/2 pint of Guinness (What do you do with the other half? Drink it!).

Method:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees. Grease one large loaf tin or two small loaf tins.

2. Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add the butter and using your fingertips, combine until the mix forms the consistency of bread crumbs.

3. Add the milk, black treacle and Guinness and mix until it forms a wet dough.

4. Pour the dough into the prepared tin(s) and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the bread to cool on a wire rack completely before slicing. Serve with butter alongside your favourite soup or stew.

According to my husband, this bread is the best thing I’ve ever baked. Considering it combines two of his favourite things – Guinness and Irish soda bread, I’m not surprised he is a fan.

Try this bread with the Sausage Baked Beans recipe in my Cowboy Birthday Brunch post.

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