My love for Irish Soda Bread is legendary among my family and friends, ever since I discovered it in a vintage issue of Glamour magazine. But this year, I’m adding another variation on my usual brown, rustic loaves. I’m going to bake Irish Soda Pizza.
The recipe comes straight from one of the most famous culinary figures on the Emerald Isle. It was devised by Darina Allen, the middle generation of Ireland’s famous Allen cooking family.
The Allens represent what might have happened if Julia Child had children and grandchildren. Their cooking school, Ballymaloe, was founded by Myrtle Allen, a writer, hotelier and Michelin Award–winning chef.
Since Myrtle’s death in 2018, at age 94, her daughter-in-law, Darina Allen, has succeeded Myrtle as the family’s matriarch and is one of Ireland’s best known writers and cooking icons.
Darina’s own daughter-in-law, Rachel, has her own cookbooks, has appeared on numerous Irish and British television programs, and teaches classes (in person and on Zoom).
Darina’s latest cookbook, Forgotten Skills of Cooking, has just been published in the United States, just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. Its 700 recipes (!) are terrific teaching tools for novice or experienced cooks.
However, I discovered her Irish Soda Pizza dough recipe in an earlier book, One Pot Feeds All, and think it provides a tangy variation on typical pizza bases.
“Understandably, Americans typically don’t think of Irish Soda Bread as a base for pizza,” Darina says via email. “But try it, the result is a brilliant deep pan pizza made in minutes.”
Irish Soda Pizza is baked on a cookie sheet or shallow roasting pan. There’s no raising involved, and the dough can handle a wide variety of toppings. You can go simple with herbs and cherry tomatoes, like a focaccia, or cover it with a boldly flavored cheese.
Darina’s recipe makes a hearty pizza that can serve as a main course. She suggests cutting it in big squares, like Detroit-style pizza. The pizza also can be divided into canape-sized bites as an appetizer before a big meal.
Rather than beer, she suggests pairing it with wine—a crisp white or a light red, depending on the herbs you use. “Irresistible and delicious,” she writes. When serving, pair it with a green salad, and you’ll be thinking up new versions before you even finish your first one.
- 3 cups white flour, plus extra for kneading and rolling
- 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups buttermilk
- 12 oz. chopped tomatoes (fresh or chopped)
- 8 bocconcini (small mozzarella balls), halved
- 1/2 oz. grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 oz. chopped chorizo
- 1 1/4 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- chopped flat leaf parsley, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the bowl, and pour in 1 1/2 cups of the buttermilk. Using one hand, mix the flour from the sides of the bowl into the buttermilk. Mix to a softish consistency—not too wet and sticky, and not too dry—adding more buttermilk if needed.
Once it comes together, turn the dough out onto a floured cutting board or your kitchen counter. Knead it lightly for a few seconds, pat it smooth, and flip it over. Brush a 12x9x2 inch roasting pan with olive oil. Roll the dough lightly so that it fits the size of the tin, pat it inside, and sprinkle on the rosemary. Place the chorizo across the surface, then add the tomatoes and halved bocconcini. Add the parmesan.
Place the pan on the lower rack of the oven, and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and bake for 20-25 more minutes until it is golden and bubbly on top. Sprinkle with parsley.
- Replace the chorizo with 4 1/2 ounces of ‘Nduja (soft sausage) and swap in marjoram for the rosemary.
- Omit the tomatoes, and try dollops of soft goat cheese with dots of tapenade.
- Swap in pesto for the tomatoes. Instead of boccancini, use 4 to 5 ounces of grated mozzarella.
- Instead of chorizo, use 3 1/2 ounces of grated cheddar, and 4 tbs of sliced spring onions.