Irish Soda Bread


#Daring Bakes' Challenge September 2015

I'd made Irish soda bread before, but honestly never thought much of it before. It was just a quick bread, something I would whip up when I am in a rush. But, our Daring Bakers host for September, Meredith from the Poco Loco Olsons challenged us to experiment with soda bread and gave me a good reason to reconsider my views on it. Only instead of experimenting with different flavours, I decided to go back to roots and find out as much as possible about this Irish baking pride and joy. 
After pages and pages of internet research I hit the jack pot when I stumbled upon the website of The Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread, full of information about the history and preparation  of traditional soda bread  as created by their ancestors. 
What caught my intention was not the ingredients list, as this is pretty known and contains just flour, buttermilk, salt and baking soda, but the method of baking it. Traditionally they used a bastible pot, a variation of an ancient way of baking known to me from my own culture as sac. You have to try goods baked under the hot coal to know the difference. If nothing else would convert me to like this bread more, this fact would have. As I discovered, even covered with a heavy pan made a difference, as well as wrapping the baked bread with a damp tea towel. Worth every crumb! (Thanks Meredith !)

Here is the full recipe of a brown soda bread, as given on the Society's website: 


Brown Soda Bread

  • 3 cups (12 oz) of wheat flour
  • 1 cup (4 oz) of white flour (do not use self-rising as it already contains baking powder and salt)
  • 14 ounces of buttermilk (pour in a bit at a time until the dough is moist)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda.
2 ounces of butter if you want to deviate a bit.

Note: I used 500 g of eight grains wholemeal flour and 400 g of buttermilk, 1 tsp of salt and 1 1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda, no butter. 

Preheat the oven to 425 F. degrees.  Lightly grease and flour a cake pan.  In a large bowl sieve and combine all the dry ingredients. Rub in the butter until the flour is crumbly.
Add the buttermilk to form a sticky dough.  Place on floured surface and lightly knead (too much allows the gas to escape)
Shape into a round flat shape in a round cake pan and cut a cross in the top of the dough.
Cover the pan with another pan and bake for 30 minutes (this simulates the bastible pot).  Remove cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
The bottom of the bread will have a hollow sound when tapped to show it is done.
Cover the bread in a tea towel and lightly sprinkle water on the cloth to keep the bread moist.
Let cool and you are ready to have a buttered slice with a nice cup of tea or coffee.

P.s It works with soups too:)

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