A classic Irish soda bread recipe.
450g plain white flour,
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1. Preheat the oven to 230C/450F/Gas 8.
2. Sift the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda, and make a well in the centre. Pour in the buttermilk. Using the fingers of one hand, stiff and oustretched like a claw, stir from the centre to the edge of the bowl in concentric circles. The dough should be softish, but not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, turn out on to a well-floured work surface.
3. Wash and dry your hands. Pat the dough into a tidy shape and flip over gently, then pat it into a round about 4cm (1 and 1/2 inches) thick. Gently transfer to a floured baking tray. Cut a deep cross into the loaf and prick the centre of each quarter to ‘let the fairies out’.
4. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas 6 and bake for a further 30 minutes or until cooked. If you are in doubt tap the bottom of the bread: it should sound hollow. Cool on a wire rack. Soda bread is best eaten on the day it is made.
For spotted dog, add 1 tablespoon sugar, 110g (4oz) sultanas and 1 free-range, organic egg to the above recipe. Reduce the buttermilk to 350ml.
From Darina Allen’s book Easy Entertaining.
Notes on Irish Soda Bread
– BROWN SODA BREAD RECIPE: To make a wholewheat soda bread (see our image) substitute the plain flour with half wholewheat and half plain flour (eg 225g of each instead of using 450g of plain flour).
– When we made this recipe, we didn’t add all the milk in one go, and in the end didn’t need all of it.
– The reason that you make a cross in the top of the loaf before you bake it is to allow the heat to get through to the centre of the bread and cook the middle. It was also a way of ‘blessing’ the bread before it went in the oven and it lets the fairies out.
– Irish soda bread is a classic Irish recipe. However, you’ll find some recipes that use caraway seeds – this is not a spice that is used often in Ireland.
– Soda bread is made either with wholewheat flour (in which case it is called Brown Soda Bread) or white flour (in which case it is called White Soda bread);
– This bread was traditionally made and cooked on the top of the cooker – in modern homes, it is baked in the oven.
Darina Allen owns and runs the world-regarded Cookery School at Ballymaloe
Photography copyright foodpixies.com