I remember my grandmother baking soda bread on her old fashioned solid fuel range. Going down to breakfast in the morning there would be the delicious smell of fresh soda bread.
Baking soda bread is for me a comforting return to childhood memories. It is a very simple, easy, quick bread to make and if you would like to start making your own bread but have little time then I suggest making soda bread.
It’s the quickest of all breads – no kneading, no proving and tastes delicious.
White Soda Bread
In my last recipe I gave you my grandmother’s recipe for brown buttermilk soda bread – called wheaten bread in Ireland. This time it is my mother’s recipe for white soda bread known simply as soda bread in Ireland.
1 1/2 lbs white plain flour (675 gms / 6 cups)
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon salt
15 fl oz / 450 ml / 2 cups buttermilk (see my recipe for cultured buttermilk in my previous post) or sour milk (add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to 1 pint of fresh milk).
- Sieve the dry ingredients into a large bowl.
- Add enough buttermilk (or sour milk) to make a soft but not sticky dough.
- Turn out onto a floured work surface and shape into a round 1 1/2 inches / 4cm thick.
- I like to bake my soda bread in a cast iron casserole dish as I find it creates a moister crumb. However, my mother preferred to bake her bread on a baking tray. If you use a casserole dish grease and line the bottom with baking parchment before placing your bread inside, otherwise place your bread on a floured baking tray.
- Cut a deep cross in the top of your dough.
- Bake in a preheated oven 400F / 200C (180C fan) / gas mark 6 for approximately 1 hour or until well risen and golden brown. It should sound hollow when tapped on the base.
- Remove from the casserole or baking tray and wrap in a clean tea towel and cool on a wire rack.
Wholemeal and white soda bread recipes are the basic soda bread recipes. You can add nuts, seeds, spices, dried fruit, sugar, honey or treacle. You can use different grains – oatmeal, rye or barley for example. Just as with yeasted or sour dough bread you can make many different varieties, some traditional, some modern.
I expect you have noticed that I am not using strong bread flour for these soda breads. They have traditionally been made using soft wheat flour and you will get the best results if you use the white and wholemeal flours used for cakes, biscuits and pastry.
Traditional Variations on White Soda Bread
Fruited Soda Bread
Just add about 8oz / 225gm / 1 1/2 cups of dried fruit such as raisins, currants, sultanas or a mixture to the dry ingredients before you add the buttermilk or sour milk.
Replace one quarter to one third of the flour with freshly cooked mashed potato.
Just add 2-3 tablespoons of warmed treacle to the buttermilk or sour milk before you add it to the dry ingredients.
Seeded Soda Bread
This is a modern variation of my recipe from last week. Add 2 tablespoons of seeds eg: pumpkin, sunflower or sesame to my grandmother’s recipe before you add the buttermilk or sour milk.
Experimenting with Different Grains in Soda Breads
I have been experimenting with using different grains in soda breads and using not so traditional additions. Next week I will let you know the results of these experiments. If you try some of these recipes I would love to know how they turn out and also the results of any experiments of your own!