Last week fopr St. Patrick’s Day I finally got around to attempting to make Irish soda bread. Boy am I kicking myself for not trying this sooner. It couldn’t be any simpler to make and the payoff is ridiculous! In Indigenous cultures here in Canada and the U.S. we make something called bannock which is a dense, quick bread and I was thinking soda bread would be very similar. It is and it isn’t. It’s as easy to make but because it uses buttermilk or sour milk (1 cup of milk with a Tbsp of white vinegar to curdle it) the soda bread is more tender and cake-like. I love it! The dough may have been a little too soft at the beginning so I added two more spoonfuls of flour to keep it from sticking to my hands too much, kneaded it a few times and it made a lovely little lumpy mound of dough. And I have a feeling I could have left it in the oven for 5 more minutes as well or perhaps made my cuts deeper so that the centre cooked as much as the corners. I think the next time I make it, it will be even better! This quick bread isn’t destined for just St. Patrick’s Day, you can make it any day of the week!
Traditional Irish Soda Bread
4 cups (1 L) all purpose flour, (can substitute 1/2 the all purpose flour with whole wheat)
1 tbsp (15 mL) granulated sugar
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
2 cups (500 mL) buttermilk (I used sour milk as described above)
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, baking soda and salt. Make a well in middle of the flour, and add buttermilk all at once.
Use your hands to mix buttermilk into flour to form a soft dough.Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Lightly knead the dough a few times to make a smooth ball.
Place loaf onto parchment-lined or greased baking sheet. With sharp knife, score a large ‘X’ on the top of the dough. Bake in the centre of a 425 F (220 C) oven for about 35 minutes. The loaf is done when browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Serve warmed with butter and honey.
Additional information : Spotted Dog Variation:
Add 1 cup (250 mL) raisins or currants and 1 tsp (5 mL) caraway seeds (optional) to the flour