This week , for my bread challenge (to make a different type of bread each week for 52 weeks) I decided to have a go at Soda Bread. My dad, who is 87, makes this every day and raves about it. It feels like a bit of a cheat bread because it is so quick and easy but would make a fab introduction to children wanting to make bread (it only takes 45 minutes).
Traditional Irish Soda bread is made with bicarbonate of soda as opposed to yeast and two of the worlds oldest foods – flour and buttermilk. Plain flour is used as, in the past, due to the wet climate in Ireland hard varieties of wheat could not be grown there. Some recipes call for the buttermilk to be replaced with live yogurt or Irish Stout. In this recipe I have added an egg which gives a little richness and a lovely golden glow to the finished loaf. I have also used a mixture of white and wholemeal flour but this isn’t always necessary. Due to the fact that the raising agent begins to work as soon as the liquid is added this bread needs very little kneading – just a quick mix and shape. Once you’ve got the hang of this you could try to vary it with the addition of 2 oz toasted pumpkin seeds, or a handful of grated strong flavoured cheese with a little chopped raw onion. As with all homemade bread it is eaten fresh from the oven (after cooling) but it is equally good toasted the next day.
225 g (8 oz) plain flour, plus extra to dust
225 g (8 oz) plain wholemeal flour
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon salt
250g (9 fl oz) buttermilk, made up to 300 ml with water
1 medium egg, beaten.
- Preheat the oven to gas mark 6/ 200°C/ 400°F and lightly grease a flat baking sheet.
- mix together the fours, sugar, salt and soda in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the watered buttermilk and beaten egg. Stir to form a soft dough.
- Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and carefully form into a round ball. Place the ball of dough onto the tray and slightly flatten it. Use a sharp knife to score a deep cross into the bread.
- Bake for 35 – 40 minutes until golden and the base sounds hollow when tapped.