- 300g wholemeal self-raising flour
- 150g white self-raising flour
- 1 heaped teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
- 25g butter, chopped into small pieces
- 500ml buttermilk ((store-bought cultured buttermilk))
- 50–100ml buttermilk, extra
There are many soda bread recipes available – this is one I have had consistent success with, based on Tamsin Day-Lewis's 'Brown Soda Bread' from West of Ireland Summers (Orion Publishing Group, 1999).
|Preheat the oven to 230ºC. Grease a 20 cm cake tin or 23 cm loaf tin and line with baking paper, or for a free-form loaf, use a flat baking tray.
Mix the flours, soda, salt and sugar together, and lightly rub in the butter until there are no detectable pieces.
Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and add 2 cups (500 ml) of the buttermilk, reserving the rest. Use a knife to mix from the centre of the well, slowly gathering the surrounding dry mixture into the buttermilk to make a soft, wet dough. If the dough is dry (which may depend on the flour itself and seasonal or ambient conditions), add extra buttermilk in small increments to make a tacky dough, and shape a loaf according to your preferred tin or tray – you may have to smooth over the surface if it looks rough.
Transfer the dough into the lined tin, and if following Irish tradition, cut a 1 or 2cm deep criss-cross into the dough, which helps the centre cook through. Bake for 30–40 minutes, until it starts to brown on top and smell fragrant. Cover the top with baking paper and continue cooking for 15 minutes, until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Rest for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool; wrap in a clean tea towel if you want a softer crust. Allow to cool before slicing and cool to room temperature before storing. The bread should last a few days in an airtight container, or can be sliced and then frozen, ready for use – it makes excellent toast.