Thursday, January 16, 2014

Irish Soda Bread

I was going to head this Bread for tired people.  Perhaps it was just the relief of Christmas and New Year being over.  Whilst I don’t want to sound like the Grinch   - “and the more the Grinch thought of what Christmas would bring the more the Grinch thought ... I must stop this whole thing” - I do love Christmas and the whole family thing, but the run-up to Christmas had left me stressed, closely followed by plain, just tired (and I know I'm not the only one).

But, on the first day of a new year, my inner Earth Mother was glowing warm and mellow with thoughts of baking bread and I began to unwind (in a good way). 

It had to be simple though, so a no-knead soda bread was the chosen one and luckily I just happened to have buttermilk in the fridge as I'd used a little in a dressing the previous night. 

I started on it after a breakfast with my sister and her partner who had stayed overnight on a break on their drive down to Tongariro National Park.  It’s an insanely casual thrust of ingredients into a bowl, a quick bring together, shape, rest awhile (you and the bread), into the oven and it's done. 

The visitors weren’t around to sample the results but I guess if they’d smelt the bread baking they might have been tempted to hang around a bit longer and I may have gotten the chance to redeem myself at Scrabble.

Although soda bread is best eaten on the day, it does toasts up well the next day – cut in thick slabs and slather with good butter.  The Irish one, of course, loves it.

Irish soda bread

500g plain (standard) flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
420ml buttermilk

Line a baking tray with baking paper and dust with flour.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, sift in the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda together and stir to combine.

Pour the buttermilk into the mixture and, with your hand, bring it together to a dough. Transfer to a lightly floured surface. 

Don’t knead the bread, just gently roll it together and shape it into a smooth round by turning it on the board between your cupped hands.  Flatten it gently with your hand.  

Using a large knife, score the loaf to make quarters, cutting almost to the base (but don’t cut through) to make a cross on top.  Gently ease the quarters apart (you will probably need to flour your hands to do this or use a pastry scraper).  This allows the heat to reach the centre of the bread (or the fairies to get out).

Heat the oven to 200°C, leaving your bread to do its thing while the oven heats up.

Bake the loaf for approximately 30 minutes or until golden brown on top.  When tapped on the base, it should sound hollow.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.


  1. From the "strange, but true" file, I don't think I've ever eaten soda bread. I've certainly never made it. Looks wonderful and I'm definitely going to try this. If you didn't have buttermilk on hand, do you think could you use a mixture of regular milk and yoghurt?

    1. Apologies Sue for the long delay in replying. You can make your own buttermilk - so easy. Just place 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice in a measuring cup. Add enough milk to bring the liquid up to the one-cup line. Leave to stand for five minutes then use the amount your recipe calls for. That simple!