We gave our soda bread a green swirl that’s perfect for St. Patrick’s Day — or any day of the year. There’s also pesto mixed into the dough, giving an appealing Italian accent to what is traditionally considered an Irish specialty.
Pesto Soda Bread
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
1 ¼ tsp baking soda
2 cups buttermilk
½ cup plus 3 tablespoons Armanino Pesto Sauce, divided
Preheat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the lower third. Spray a standard 9”x5” loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.
In a bowl or large measuring cup, stir together the buttermilk and the ½ cup of pesto.
In a large bowl, add the flour and salt then sift in the baking soda to remove any lumps.
Give the dry ingredients a stir then make a well in the center and pour in the pesto/buttermilk.
Stir until the dough comes together then mix with your hands, gently kneading and incorporating all the dry bits.
Turn the dough out onto work surface and knead a few times – it will be slightly sticky – to bring everything together.
On a lightly floured surface, pat the dough into rectangle then gently roll to 12”x15”, flouring lightly as needed to prevent sticking.
Spread the remaining 3 tablespoons of pesto evenly on the dough surface to a very light layer.
Starting with the long end, roll the dough up tightly, jelly roll style, pinching the ends and edges to seal.
Turn so the seam is on the bottom, give the roll a push from both ends to compress a little and place in the prepared loaf pan seam side down.
With a sharp knife give the top of the loaf three diagonal slashes about ½” deep.
Bake for 30 minutes then give the loaf a peek; if browning too quickly, place a piece of foil on top to prevent any burning. Continue baking for another 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
Let the pan rest on a wire rack for 10 minutes then turn the bread out of the pan and let cool. Best eaten the same day.
For the butters, combine ingredients in a small bowl. Can be made several days ahead and refrigerated.
Baking soda is often a little lumpy. For best results, sift through a fine mesh strainer into the flour to get rid of any clumps.
When spreading the 3 tablespoons of pesto on the dough, try for a smooth, even, thin layer. Too thick and the dough will separate during baking, the pesto will ooze and the loaf will have gaps inside. A nice thin swirl is the goal.
Leftovers, even if slightly stale, make great toast and grilled sandwiches.