Irish Soda Bread
(Irish soda-leavened bread)
Soda bread is best eaten warm from the oven. It stays fresh for only a day or two and should be tightly wrapped. Leftovers are good for toast.
Makes 1 loaf
- Cake flour -- 3 cups
- All-purpose flour -- 1 cup
- Baking soda -- 1 1/2 teaspoons
- Salt -- 1 teaspoon
- Buttermilk -- 1 1/2 cups
- Preheat oven to 450°F. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and salt.
- Stir the buttermilk into the flour with a wooden spoon to form a raggedy dough. Remove the dough to a floured work surface and knead gently just until the dough comes together. The dough will be sticky. Do not overknead or your bread will be tough.
- Form the dough into a domed loaf and place it on a lightly floured baking sheet. Cut an X in the top with a serrated knife. Set in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
- Reduce heat to 400°F and bake for another 30 minutes, or until the loaf is nicely browned and sounds hollow when tapped.
- Remove from the oven and serve slices warm with butter, jam or jelly.
Soda Bread Variations
- Brown, or Wheaten Bread (Northern Ireland): Use 3 cups of whole wheat flour and 1 cup of all-purpose flour.
- Farl (Northern Ireland): Preheat a large skillet or griddle over low flame. After lightly kneading the dough, press it out into a flattened round about 1 inch thick. Cut the round into four triangular wedges and place into the preheated skillet or griddle, leaving about 1/2 inch of space between the wedges. Bake for about 20 minutes per side, taking care not to let the bread burn. Farl is a traditional part of an Ulster Fry, or Irish breakfast, a high-cholesterol orgy of Irish bacon, fried eggs, black pudding and sausage.
- Damper (Australia): A soda bread traditionally baked over an open fire by Australian itinerant farm workers called swagmen. Use 3 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, 3 teaspoons of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of salt, 3/4 cup mik and 3/4 cup water. Work 3 tablespoons of butter into the dry ingredients if you like. Serve with golden syrup, jam or honey.
- Spotted Dog, or Spotted Dick: Soak 1/2 cup raisins in hot water for 10 minutes and drain. Stir raisins and 2 teaspoons of sugar into the dry ingredients.
- Treacle bread: Stir together 2 tablespoons of treacle or molasses, 4 teaspoons of sugar and 1 1/4 cups buttermilk and substitute for the 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk in the recipe above.
- Seedy Bread: Add 1 tablespoon caraway seeds to the dry ingredients.
- If a softer crust is desired, wrap the bread in a kitchen towel after removing it from the oven.
- Irish wheat is lower in gluten, and using cake flour in the recipe above simulates Irish flour. You can use only all-purpose flour if you prefer.