Years ago, white soda bread was referred to as “cake bread” and was considered to be more of a luxury than everyday whole wheat bread. This bread takes only a few minutes to make and about 45 minutes to bake. It can be plain or you can add sweet or savory bits to it.
Darina Allen's White Irish Soda Bread
- 1 pound all-purpose flour, preferably unbleached
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups and 2 tablespoons buttermilk, plus 4 tablespoons light cream
- Heat oven to 450˚ F.
- Sift the dry ingredients into a large, wide bowl. Make a well in the center and pour most of the buttermilk mixture in at once. Grip the bowl with one hand and use the other hand to mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be softish and not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, turn it out onto a well-floured work surface. Wash and dry your hands so the dough is easier to handle.
- Tidy up the dough and flip it over gently. Then pat it into a round about 1in thick and cut a deep cross on it which is done according to Irish folklore in order to let the fairies out! Let the cuts go over the sides of the bread to make sure of this. Bake for 25 minutes, then turn down the oven to 400°F for 30 minutes or until cooked. If in doubt, tap the bottom of the bread: if it is cooked it will sound hollow.
- Add 2 tablespoons of freshly chopped herbs, 2 tablespoons of chopped olives, 2 tablespoons of sundried tomatoes, 1⁄2 cup raisins or 1–2 teaspoons of curry powder and maybe some golden raisins, 2 tablespoons of caraway or other seeds – the possibilities are endless!