Trust me to find the one recipe that is made within the hour, from start to finish. The soda bread has been a fascination for me since a while now, and I have had two failed attempts last year, after which I gave up entirely, comforting myself in artisanal made breads from various specialists. But today, was a different day. Today, much like the past ten days or so, have been mildly challenging in terms of conserving and cautious cooking. We ran out of bread, and in maintaining the lockdown position – I decided a bread had to be made. It was the least I could do for the family. Mind you, we rarely eat bread in this house (one loaf for about 15 days!), but ever since there’s been a lockdown announced, every member of the family has started craving food and dishes out of the norm, and there’s a demand for toast every morning.
So, I came to the Irish Soda Bread – a quick prep, 4 ingredients, no kneading, no proofing, no yeast… in short, not much skill required – perfect for the kind of days we’re facing.
I learnt a few mistakes from the last two failed attempts – flatten the bread more before baking – or else it may not cook all the way through. Also I add a pinch of castor sugar, along with a bit more salt.
This bread has a wonderful tale and requires you to bless the bread with a cross, along with pricking the corners to let the fairies out for good luck! I followed this to the T, because I discovered this was my last bag of flour to bake with, so nothing could go wrong. I made buttermilk (chaas), with 200g yoghurt. If you have sour yoghurt which you use for kadi at home, use that dahi. The sourness is what really helps this bread! I also strongly suggest to not wait too long between the step of adding buttermilk to putting into the oven – the soda reacts immediately with the liquid, and let it on for too long, you may end up with a too dense and doughy texture.
I bake it for longer than what others mostly do – because I feared the raw dough inside – and it works for me. So I give 20 minutes at the two temperatures. The last 3 minutes, I suggest flipping over the bread. Please note, that the Irish bread is pretty much a rustic bread – it ain’t a very good looking one, but tastes brilliant. It’s a home bread, not one to show off, perfect for impromptu open toasts, to scoop up pasta sauce or gravy with and make a bowl of soup more wholesome. The texture is more on the dense side, while the tops are hard. The best way to eat this, is with a thick layer of butter, and a bit of blackberry jam – it is heaven!
This recipe is pretty much ingrained in my head now. I might try adding some herbs or ajwain seeds too – again, this depends on when I get my next bag of flour – speaking to you BigBasket.com !!!
Anyways, please do try this at home. It’s too simple to not give it a shot.
Recipe adapted from Darina Allen
Serves Serves: 1 Irish Soda Bread | Prep Time: 15 mins | Cook Time: 40 mins
- 450g white flour
- 1 tsp + a pinch extra of salt
- ½ tsp baking soda
- pinch of sugar
- 415ml or 14 fl oz buttermilk
- (buttermilk made with 200g yoghurt + remaining water)
- Heat the oven at 225C
- Take a large baking tray and dust some flour on it
- In a large wide bowl, combine the flour, salt, sugar and baking soda
- Pour the buttermilk slowly, and using your fingers, swirl it into a dough – do not knead
- Tip the dough into a lightly floured surface and bring together like a ball – without kneading. Use gentle palm movements to pat the dough on the sides
- Transfer to the baking tray
- Flatten out to approx. 1.5 inch
- Use a sharp knife to make a cross X on the centre, and small pricks into the four sides as well
- Bake for 20 minutes at 225C
- Then reduce the temperature to 200C, and bake for another 17 minutes
- After the 17 minutes, open the oven and flip the bread over, to bake for another 3 minutes.
- Remove from oven, and cool on a rack
- Best eaten with butter and jam!
- Store: in an airtight container at room temperature, or a bread basket