Quick and simple recipe for Irish Soda Bread

275g wholewheat flour
175g white bread flour
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
1 tbs ice cold butter, cut in small blocks
300-350ml buttermilk
extra white bread flour for dusting

How to
Add all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. (Given that this soda bread recipe is so simple, I wanted to give it the edge by using really good stone ground, unbleached four, so I used the one from Eureka Mills. It can be found in all major supermarkets.)

Add the butter to it and rub through lightly with your fingers until the butter disappears. Now add the buttermilk. How much liquid you need is affected many things, including the kind of flour you are using. So start by adding 300ml. Add the remainder only if you need it, and a bit at a time. You want the dough to be soft and pliable, but not sticky and wet. Mix through quickly with a large fork or your fingers until combined.

Tip out onto a work surface lightly dusted with flour and roll a few times until the dough comes together. Be quick and be light, this is not a dough that wants to be kneaded or messed with. Shape the dough into a ball and place it onto a floured non-stick baking tray. Press the dough flat (about 5cm thick) and make a deep cross-shaped incision with a sharp knife. Dust the top with some flour and bake in a 200 degree Celsius oven for 40-45 minutes until done. The bread is ready when it is brown and sounds hollow when you tap it underneath. This really is best served while warm.

Top tips:
1) Soda bread is a wonderful neutral base to play with. You can add spices like caraway seeds or dry herbs if you want to pair it with a soup. You can add nuts and raisins, or even cheese.
2) If you want a sweeter bread, add more sugar.
3) If you prefer a whiter bread, use more white bread flour and less wholewheat.

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Recipe by Lizet Hartley, courtesy of Melkkos & Merlot, a bilingual blog about food.