Traditional Irish Soda Bread is part of my younger childhood memories. Granny Hyland used to make Irish Soda Bread most days of her life and our annual holiday to Ireland to visit her and Grandad Hyland, in their gatekeepers cottage in the Wicklow countryside, allowed us to enjoy its flavour once again. The taste and smell of food has very powerful associations don’t you think?
Irish Soda Bread was the most popular homemade bread in Ireland in the earlier part of the 20th century. The climate in Ireland produced softer wheat rather than hard wheat with a high gluten content (best suited for using yeast as a raising agent). There were two common types of soda bread, one was ‘cake ‘ (where the loaf is baked as a round shape with a cross cut into the top to allow the bread to expand) and ‘farl’ (more common in Northern Ireland- the dough was flattened to 1/4 inch thick, cut into 4 pieces and cooked on griddle).
It’s the quickest & easiest bread recipe ever, it involves only a very light knead (the less the better) and no waiting for the dough to rise… I always pay a couple of dollars more for an organic non-gmo flour and even then, this loaf is a fraction of the price it would command in your local store..
Traditional Irish Soda Bread
- 1 lb of wholewheat flour (4 cups)
- 500 mls (2 cups) of buttermilk (1 teaspoon of vinegar added to fresh milk <<I used almond milk>> makes a good fake buttermilk)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
- Place 2 cups of milk into a bowl, add 1 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice. Mix well and set aside for 15 minutes before using in recipe. Buttermilk is a necessary ingredient because it helps activate the baking soda to produce a rise
- Meanwhile sieve your flour into a large bowl with the salt and baking soda
- After 15 minutes whisk up the buttermilk with a fork to make sure it is mixed well and pour into a well in the centre of the flour
- Mix up with a spoon until formed into a dough
- Briefly knead to ensure it is mixed well (knead as little as possible)
- Form into a round, very slightly flattened shape, place on baking tray, and with a sharp knife mark with a shallow cross in the middle (this allows for the dough to expand)
- Oven should be pre-heated to 200 c (400 F) and the loaf placed in the middle to top half of the oven for around 45 minutes. Cover with aluminium foil if it begins to brown too quickly
- Loosely wrap in a clean t-towel once removed and place on a cooling rack (wrapping in a tea-towel ensures a softer crust although you can wrap in cling film after it has fully cooled to achieve a similar result)
I served a chunk of this with vegetable and oatmeal goulash yesterday but it is wonderful with soup, cheese and ‘Branston Pickle’ or just with butter.. (I remember this from my pre-vegan days!)
Each loaf is about 1600 calories