There are many things I love about the Irish. Their accent. (Insert weak knees here). Their comedians. (Cool story – Tom and I actually met David O’Doherty at a random hole-in-the-wall in Dublin a few years ago! He was there for a friends’ bachelor party, and we were there for getting drunk). Their reverence of the wonderful thing that is alcohol. (Have you ever seen an Irish person drink? My God). And now their traditional soda bread.
P.S. Sorry that the bread looks a bit ugly. For some reason, the X that I scored on top somehow tore all the way down the bread 🙁
From what I’ve read, soda bread became popular in Ireland owing to the fact that Ireland was a poor country back in the day, and the simplicity of the ingredients made soda bread cheap and quick to make. Flour, baking soda, soured milk and salt were all that were needed. Of course, this has changed in recent years with the additions of butter and egg in some recipes, but the ideals remain the same – baking soda is used as a leavening agent instead of yeast, and soured milk is used to activate the soda.
I haven’t had much luck baking bread in the past, as my home-baked bread has always come out so rock-hard that a chainsaw is needed to slice it. Thankfully, this Irish soda bread was a success – and could be easily sliced with a simple bread knife. The loaf has a firm, browned crust with a crumbly, buttery, custard-yellow crumb. (Fun fact: the inner bit of bread – AKA not the crust – is known as the crumb. Hence, bits of bread are known as crumbs. You learn something new every day). With its airy texture and somewhat bitter, chewy mouthfeel, the bread is comparable to a savoury scone. It’s great to toast, too, and tastes amazing with a smattering of butter and jam.
Irish Soda Bread
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2¼ tsp baking soda
- 1½ tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp white sugar
- 4 tbsp softened butter
- 1 whisked egg
- 1½ cups buttermilk
Preheat oven to 200°C and spray a round bread bowl with non-stick spray, then lightly dust with flour
In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and sugar. Add the butter, and rub the mixture together with your hands to form coarse crumbs
Fold in the egg and buttermilk, and mix until just combined
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough becomes soft and pliable. Form the dough into a round ball and place into bread bowl. Score the top of the dough with an X, roughly 1cm deep
Bake the bread for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 180°C and bake for a further 45 minutes. To test, insert a toothpick into the bread and ensure it comes out clean