I love this bread.
It wasn’t the first bread I ever made, but it was the first I made well.
The raising agent used is bicarbonate of soda (hence the name), and no yeast is involved. This means that you don’t need to leave the dough to prove, and it doesn’t require much kneading either, making it perfect for beginners to baking. It will give you lots of confidence to try other recipes, or you may just want to stick with this one. It is good. And it’s ready in under an hour. I’m thinking of making it a regular weekend feature in my kitchen.
Makes 1 loaf. Serves 4-8 depending on what you have alongside.
- 400g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 15g butter
- 50g oatmeal
- 1 tsp clear honey
- 300ml buttermilk
- 2 tbsp milk
- 15 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 200°c.
- Put the flour in a large bowl. Add the bicarbonate of soda and salt. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, then stir in the oatmeal. Make a well in the centre.
- In a separate bowl, mix the honey, buttermilk and milk together, then gradually add to the dry ingredients. Mix to a soft dough.
- Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 2-3 minutes until smooth. Shape into a wide-ish round and place on an oiled baking sheet.
- Thickly dust the top of the bread with flour. Using a sharp knife, cut a deep cross on top, going about halfway through the loaf. This helps it to cook through properly, though according to legend it was intended to let the fairies out or to scare away the devil!
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the bread is risen, golden and sounds hollow when tapped underneath. Check the middle of the bread with a skewer to check it is cooked all the way through. Cool on a wire rack, but not too much! It is beautiful eaten still warm. In any case, eat it on the day of making.
I love to serve mine slathered in butter and honey. In the picture below I have used some honey I got from Zante on my last holiday. They have almonds and walnuts immersed in honey all over the place, and they are delicious.
Irish soda bread has been made for a long time as an every day bread, so any recipes including other ingredients such as raisins or whiskey are not traditional. But seriously it would be so good with raisins and I’ll definitely add some next time.
Also, it might be to do with the fact that my oven cooks from the bottom up, but the bottom of this soda bread tasted like pretzels.
This was a bonus for me.