Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Traditional Irish Soda Bread.
Do you love the thought of making your own bread, but are worried that it will be too time-consuming or too much trouble? Does the smell of bread baking send you into sensory overload? Well, have I got a recipe for you! Talk about easy, you only have to knead the dough a few times to bring the ingredients together and because baking soda is the leavening agent, you don’t have to let it rise. You just mix everything in a bowl, plop the dough on a baking sheet and let it bake. In fact, if your children like to help in the kitchen, this is a perfect recipe for them to try. Traditional Irish Soda Bread is so simple to make, you won’t need to rely on the luck o’ the Irish to pull it off.
Back in the 1800’s when baking soda was first introduced it made making Irish Soda Bread the easiest and least expensive way to put bread on the table and it meant that people who didn’t have an oven—and virtually nobody had an oven in Ireland then—could make soda bread. The Irish cooked the bread in a big cast-iron pot with a lid on it that would have been put right onto the coals. To this day, traditional Irish Soda Bread only contains four ingredients, flour, baking soda, buttermilk, and salt. That’s it!
There are lots of Americanized recipes for Soda Bread out there, but according to Ed O’Dwyer who founded The Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread, (http://www.sodabread.info/) “If your soda bread has raisins, it’s not soda bread, it’s called Spotted Dog or Railway Cake! If it contains raisins, eggs, baking powder, sugar or shortening, it’s called cake, not bread. All are tasty, but not traditional Irish Soda Bread!”
O’Dwyer’s Web site also states, that “The Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread is one of those Societies where there are no dues, no meetings, and the only requirement for joining is to bake traditional Irish Soda Bread from time to time and teach a child about soda bread and how to make it.” So, I guess I am officially a member now and you can be too!
Traditional Irish Soda Bread is a rustic, dense bread with a crunchy crust and a stick-to-your-ribs interior, and it’s perfect served with corned beef and cabbage, Irish lamb stew or even my Shrimp with Green Sauce. Forget the green beer this year, top your warm bread with some melted Irish butter and after one bite, you will be in Irish heaven!
Looking for more Irish inspired food for St. Patrick’s Day, check out my Ten Irish Recipes for St. Patrick’s Day Roundup.
Have I convinced you that this delicious bread is something you simply have to make? Well then, gather the four ingredients, which you probably already have in your pantry: all-purpose flour, baking soda, buttermilk, and salt and let’s get started!
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet and lightly spray with baking non-stick spray.
Add flour, salt and baking soda to a large bowl and using a fork mix well.
Add 1 ¼ cup of buttermilk and mix until the flour is moistened and partially comes together. If necessary, add a little more buttermilk if your dough is too dry.
Pour this mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead until the dough forms a nice ball and holds together. Do not knead too much or your bread will be tough.
Shape the dough into approximately a 6-inch disk about 2 inches thick and place on your baking sheet.
Using a knife cut an X about 1 inch deep and extend it almost to the edges of the dough. This helps your bread cook in the middle.
Bake for about 35 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when you tap on it.
Transfer to a rack to cool. Serve warm with butter. Leftovers, if you have any, can be sliced and toasted the next day and topped with butter and or jam. Yum!