At the time of writing, it’s St. Patrick’s Day! The day of the year where everyone digs out their Irish Great-Great-Great-Great Grandparentage as an excuse to drink themselves silly. Silly people. As if you need an excuse.
Anyway, besides indulging my alcohol dependence, I thought I’d celebrate this St. Patrick’s day by sharing the recipe for Soda Bread, a wonderful, filling bread that was actually made popular in Ireland through, not by choice, but by necessity due to a state of poverty in Ireland in the 1800’s which meant this bread was easy and inexpensive to make.
It really is a simple recipe to make as well. There are only four ingredients, and it requires barely any kneading and no time to prove at all, as the rising is made with the bicarbonate of soda reacting with the acidity of the buttermilk. You just mix up the ingredients and pop it in the oven. That’s it. Of course, it still needs a bit of finesse, but it’s a wonderful bread that is great with cheese, or I love it with butter while it’s still warm out of the oven. It’s traditionally a brown bread, but my preferred version is with half wholemeal flour and half white flour, or you could add grated cheese and onion to it, or even fruit. But we’re going with the more traditional version.
Soda BreadPrint Recipe
- 250g Strong Wholemeal Bread Flour
- 250g Strong White Bread Flour
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1½ tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
- 400ml Buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan)/390°F/Gas Mark 6.
Put the flours, salt, and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl and mix together well.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, and add half of the buttermilk into the well.
Using a rounded knife, or your fingers if you want to get messy, pull the flour into the buttermilk until it's starting to combine.
Continue to add the buttermilk until you have a soft, sticky dough. Don't been too vigorous with the mixing. You may find you won't need all of the buttermilk, depending on your flour.
Tip the dough onto a floured surface and very lightly gently shape it into a ball. You can lightly knead it to bring the dough together more, but don't knead it like you would a normal, yeasted bread.
Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured baking sheet or, preferably, a baking stone. Press the dough gently to flatten it slightly, but not too much.
Dust the top of the bread with four and, using a sharp knife, cut the dough into quarters but do not cut all the way through.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the loaf is nice and golden and hollow sounding when you tap the bottom. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
The bread is best eaten within a day of baking. But it's also wonderful toasted a couple of days after baking.