Irish Soda Bread came about in the 19th century when bicarbonate of soda became accessible. There are thousands of recipes with many variations on ingredients but there are some things that are always the same.
- The recipe will always have flour, salt, buttermilk and baking soda. Some people use half white flour and half wheat or even add oatmeal.
- The way the recipe is prepared is always the same. Ingredients in a bowl or on counter. It is never kneaded and barely touched to ensure good texture.
- You always without fail cut a cross into the top of the loaf. The reason this is done is to let the fairies out before you cook the bread. I wish I could tell you more about the fairies but I all know is every recipe I’ve seen says that. I assume they are invisible to humans.
- Before the bread is removed from the oven you must turn it upside down to finish cooking until it makes a hollow thump when you knock on it.
I will share with you the recipe I used to make Irish soda bread. I used both white and wheat flour and oats. I overworked the batter and my buttermilk was not as thick as I would have liked. This will show you how easy it is even if things go wrong.
- 300 grams white flour
- 200 grams wheat flour
- 75 grams oats
- 1 tsp. Baking soda
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 30 grams butter (cut into pieces)
- 510 ml buttermilk
- Preheat the oven to 395 F and dust a baking sheet with flour. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl, then rub in the butter but not so much that it is fully incorporated. Pour in the buttermilk all at once and mix it in quickly with a butter knife, then shape into a ball(handle as little as possible). Shape the bread into a round loaf.
- Put the loaf on the baking sheet and score a X in the top. (This is a critical step as it let’s the fairies escape) Bake for 30-35 minutes, around ten minutes before the bread is done. Flip it upside down so it cooks evenly. (I waited too long and the bottom of my bread became over cooked)
- Transfer to a wire rack, cover with a clean dish towel (this keeps the crust soft) and leave to cool. To eat simply break apart or slice and eat with butter. Like most breads it is best warm but I ate it for breakfast the next day and it was great.
In the end I was happy with my bread and enjoyed it the next day for breakfast. I liked how quickly it came together without much of a mess(compared to yeast breads). I will definitely make this bread again.