sides, snacks

Irish oaten rolls.

I couldn’t let the holiday go by without telling you about these rolls. Some of you know that I’m scared to attempt and subsequently fail at anything involving yeast, and I need to get over that. I’ve been working on some things which I think will help me conquer my fears, like:

  • Reading all of your comments re: my yeast ‘fraidy-cattedness over and over, because you all have been so encouraging and it makes me feel good inside
  • Gathering up recipes some of you have suggested from your blogs/grandmothers which are allegedly easy to make and may help with my confidence
  • Singing enthusiastic pop songs related to conquering one’s fears, only subbing in bread-centric, dough-related words
  • Avoiding anything that involves yeast entirely until I can really wrap my head around it. Which isn’t, as it seems, going to be this week. Maybe next.

One way I like to ignore my self-induced yeast willies is to make things called “bread” which don’t involve things like kneading, punching and rising. Less violent, I say. Also, I enjoy science quite a bit, and any sort of soda bread really piques my interest. If you’ve ever spent time with a soda bread recipe, it’s a little like making a dud of a science-class volcano; you can watch the baking soda react when the ingredients are all together. There’s no exploding or anything, but it’s still interesting to watch chemicals do their thing to form bread, even if there’s no yeast involved.

I’ve had traditional soda bread, but never one with oats and Guinness gracing the ingredient list. I could guess what flavor and texture the oats lended to it, but the Guinness? I was stumped. Obviously we all got really excited over that Espresso Guinness Chocolate cake and subsequent mini-cakes, but that was chocolate. This was Guinness all alone as a main flavor.

Result: thrilling. It tastes just like an oaty, pretzel-flavored roll. It’s fantastic hot out of the oven with some butter smeared all over it. It’s got that rich, malty flavor you get with a soft pretzel, and yet you don’t feel bad eating them for breakfast. A cross between bread and biscuit, it would make an excellent bun for some leftover turkey sandwiches. Do them open-faced, throw a little cheddar and some grainy mustard on there,  and you’re ready to hug it out with your thanksgiving leftovers. These would also make an unexpected alternative to the standard Thanksgiving dinner roll. And the prep time? Mere minutes to make. You throw things into bowls and scoop onto a baking sheet. No waiting.

My mom is here. Perhaps once we’re settled,  she can entertain my Wee One, and I can fully dedicate my brain and my hands to yeast things. Certainly we’ll be making some scratch rolls, so it’s going to happen. Until then, I offer my oaten rolls to you to eat with butter, or turkey, or both.

Update: So I wrote this post, and then had a feeling come over me that could only be described as “over myself.” And then I made a yeast thing, and it worked. I’ll share soon. 

Adapted from Nigella Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home by Nigella Lawson.

Irish Oaten Rolls

  • 2  2/3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking (not instant) oats, plus a few teaspoons more for top-sprinkling
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups Guinness
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup honey

Preheat oven to 425˚F and line a half-sheet size baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, stir together your flour, oats, salt, and baking soda.

In a medium bowl, whisk together your Guinness, buttermilk, oil, and honey.

Add your liquids to the dry ingredients and stir with a spoon to combine. Your dough will seem very wet at first, but if you think about it, this recipe is a little bit like those fake volcanoes everyone would make in science class from baking soda. Once the soda starts to act up, it gets a thicker and holds together. It’s soda bread, so  the batter will seem heavy, but drop-able. Wait a few minutes after stirring together until you feel that it’s thick enough to start portioning out.

Using an ice cream scoop, which works marvelously for these, scoop out the batter from the bowl, flattening the open side of the scoop against the side to make a flattish bottom. Place on prepared sheet pan. As these are sticky and there are no “do-overs” in terms of resetting them, plan on 6 per half-size sheet pan, for a total of 12. Your rolls should be about 3 inches in diameter and about 1 1/2 inches high.

Sprinkle some oats over top of your rolls and bake for 12-14 minutes, checking at the 10 minute mark for doneness. They probably won’t be done then, but you’ll want to see how far along they are. Dry soda bread is lame soda bread, so be sure you don’t overbake these.

I wish I could say these lasted a long time, but as with any soda bread, they don’t. You really should try to make these the day you want to eat them, and then eat them all that day. The next day you can salvage your leftover bread with a little microwave heating, but after that, they just won’t be the same. Thankfully, they’re so easy to make, you can just whip up some more.

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  • Reply Sharyn Dimmick November 17, 2012 at 8:15 am

    A couple of thoughts: if you have any rolls left and want to reheat them, lose the microwave and put them in a hot oven in a paper bag with a little water sprinkled inside — that will refresh your rolls and make them almost as good as new. Or eat them cold and dip them in soup or tea or gravy.

    • Reply shannon November 19, 2012 at 5:44 am

      Sharyn, what great suggestions! I don’t make soda bread often, and the one downside for me is that it just doesn’t keep as long as it would normally take to eat it. With your tips, i may be able to make it last a wee bit longer. thanks!

      • Reply movita beaucoup November 24, 2012 at 5:53 am

        You can also put some parchment paper under the tap, wring it out really well, and then wrap bread in that for re-heating in the oven! Or… CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE IRISH OATEN BREAD CRUMBS?! I just peed my pants.

        • Reply shannon November 24, 2012 at 3:52 pm

          seriously, you know someone’s a badass baker when they suggest things like wetting parchment paper, wringing it out, and wrapping it around bread to reheat it. that’s a straight-up technique, and one i have never even heard of.

          i can’t even stop thinking about it now. it’s like i feel compelled to throw some parchment under a faucet just to see what happens to it. I’VE NEVER EVEN SEEN WET PARCHMENT, let alone use it as a bread-rewarmer. what is wrong with me.

  • Reply Amy @ ElephantEats November 18, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    I’m as big of a fan of yeast-less breads as yeasty ones. These sounds so good. You saying that they taste like pretzels reminds me that pretzel rolls are one thing I’ve been meaning to try my hands at. Maybe one day soon…

    • Reply shannon November 19, 2012 at 5:51 am

      I like them too; truly you put any bread in front of me and i’m probably good. 🙂 good luck with the pretzel rolls! And i know, right? This time of year feels, in blogger land, like your head may explode. too….many….recipes…and i want to make everything, and at some point i start to feel like a little cartoon character when their eyes go all popped out. 🙂

  • Reply Ashley November 19, 2012 at 9:38 am

    Every year I test a new soda bread recipe in search of THE soda bread. Obviously, your rolls are this year’s candidate, with Guinness to lend major credibility points. And hooray!!!!! for conquering yeast-fears! Keep moving forward, bigger and better! You’ll totally win over all things yeast! I mean, you play with fire and oil, how can you not beat yeast?

    • Reply shannon November 20, 2012 at 6:20 am

      i’m so flattered i get to maybe be this year’s THE Soda Bread!! You’re in for a treat; this was one of those “let’s give these a whirl, i have all the ingredients here and they’re easy” recipes, and i was massively impressed with both texture (not dry!) and flavor.
      thanks for cheering me on with my yeast fears…i’m gonna do it. I feel like i’ve started the process of warming up to things like sweet rolls, and some other relatively easy recipes people have suggested. I think i can do it; i think what it’s going to take is some paying attention and some working out of the small things maybe i do incorrectly, but i’m going to do it. i even plan to conquer the hard bread stuff! it’s become a new year’s resolution for the blog.
      i feel more confident knowing you feel confident in me. is that weird? no way. 🙂

      • Reply Ashley November 20, 2012 at 9:46 am

        I’m glad I can offer encouragement and support! With your mad kitchen skills (perhaps that should be skills with a z?), I know you can do this! Plus I know how important it is to me to have people supporting me and urging me forward. So, not weird!
        What about this recipe for starters?
        I’ve made it several times for football snacks. It involves yeast, but in such an easy way! And you can swap in just about any beer, though I’d stick with something in the amber color zone for best flavor results.
        Next up, brioche!!! (Just kidding, but it’s not too far off)

        • Reply shannon November 20, 2012 at 4:20 pm

          oh…my…goodness: it’s like you just know me. because you would have to, to know i would love – LOVE – something called pumpkin beer pretzels.

          it is bookmarked. in the special section i call “things my friends have suggested i make to conquer yeast.” what a great idea to add pumpkin to pretzels!!! obviously i’m stoked. thank you for the recipe suggestion!

          brioche! so fancy. 🙂 my goal is to practice with my “starter recipes” in december, then in january, i conquer croissant and danish pastry. fold, fold, turn, fold, turn.

  • Reply Emma November 19, 2012 at 10:12 am

    Love rolls! Love beer bread! Love beer bread rolls? Probably!

    We’re going to make some calzones tonight, and found some pizza dough at the store labeled simply as “beer.” We’ll see how it goes!

    • Reply shannon November 19, 2012 at 5:44 pm

      i feel i can safely say you would love these. or at least like them a little.

      beer-crusted calzones! AWESOME! i feel like i already know how that’s going to go.

  • Reply GrzegorzS February 21, 2015 at 4:28 am

    Very easy and quick-to-prepare bread. I used Samuel Adams Winter Lager and was impressed by the flavor. I served this tonight with chili and it made a very satisfying meal. I sifted the flour once, then after adding the other dry ingredients I sifted again (something my grandmother always did–sift ALL the dry ingredients). It was not brick-ish at all. I’m anxious to try the suggestion of using this for French toast. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • Reply shannon February 27, 2015 at 11:01 am

      I like your choice of the Sam Adams Winter Lager! I bet that was lovely in these, and sifting always helps with the lightness (cheers to your grandmother because her technique still holds true; i should do it more often). Thanks for reading!

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