Sunday, 24 June 2007

Irish Soda Bread

While reading another food blog on Friday, I came upon a link to an article about bread and the seeming-freshness (and nutritional dearth) of our chemical-laden food. The story resonated with me since I consider myself fairly food-aware and anti-chemical (despite some admitted indulgences, such as peanut butter). It also resonated because the article (Where Have All Our Nutrients Gone) was written by a friend with whom I've lost touch and who is now a health and nutrition writer. Funny how interests can converge without even realizing it.

So when Saturday morning came around and Tom announced he was going out to buy bread and a newspaper, I tasked Tom with coming back from the shops with only the newspaper - I would make the bread. I haven't made bread in a while and I've never been good at proofing yeast, and I had also been up the night before sick as anything due to some bug (not due to my cooking, honest), so I figured the least painful route to baked bread would be the Irish Soda Bread (no yeast or much time needed). Tom clearly didn't have faith in my health since he came back with a loaf anyway, but my determination won out and we've been happily enjoying the light, crunchy-crusted crumbly bread over the mass-produced loaf; it will probably be done before the weekend is over, with the store-bought loaf soldiering on.

Irish Soda Bread
Bake at 190 C/375 F for 35-45 minutes
(note: the recipe calls for buttermilk which helps give it the distinctive flavor, but you can use normal milk or even soya milk without doing harm; it just might need to cook for another 5 or so minutes and the taste will be less tangy)

  • 10 oz / 2 1/2 C Wholemeal flour
  • 6 oz / 1 1/2 C White flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 40g / 3 Tbsp butter (or lard)
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 350-375ml / 1 1/2 - 1 2/3 C buttermilk (or other milk)
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 190 C/375 F
  2. Sift together both flours and the salt
  3. Add the soda and tartar
  4. Rub in the butter
  5. Stir in the sugar
  6. Add in the minimum amount of milk, stirring to see the result. The mixture should just be dampened through rather than properly wet. Add more milk if needed.
  7. Don't knead or mix the dough more than necessary - this will make it heavier
  8. Either on a greased baking tray or floured surface, shape the dough into a big round. Cut a cross shape into the top of the loaf, and dust with extra wholemeal flour.
  9. Bake 35-45 minutes; the loaf will be done when it sounds hollow after being tapped.


The Venerable Bede said...

In my experience - and certainly in Ireland - soda bread has to be served with black pudding, white pudding and eggs/bacon etc. And aren't the rolls/loaves called 'Farls'? Beautiful toasted with lots of butter...

Sandra said...

Mmmm soda bread is sooo good! Great choice of recipe.

Claire Adam said...

I am going to try this this weekend! You know me, how I love to bake ;-)

Niamheen said...

Soda bread is served with anything in Ireland, it's just bread as we know it :-) It's served with a full irish breakfast alright, but is equally common lathered in butter and served with a cup of tea or with soup.

Nice recipe! At home we'd use buttermilk but it's hard to get here so this is a good compromise.