The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Irish Soda Bread

JamieOF's picture
JamieOF

Irish Soda Bread

This is a recipe I developed that was based on a recipe found on http://www.sodabread.info/, "The Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread". (NOTE: Using their quantities with the flour I use, I get a dough that would be more accurately called a batter. It's that thin.) While many will add other ingredients like sugar, currants or raisins, caraway seeds, etc, by tradition, this makes it a cake. Some even add booze of one sort or another and on our trips to Ireland, speaking to the good folks running B&Bs and in bakeries, they call this the "Americanization" of the bread.

So, they say, as does the site above, TRUE Irish Soda Bread has 4 ingredients, flour, buttermilk, salt and baking soda, technically 5, I guess, if you consider 2 types of flour 2 separate ingredients.

A couple of ingredient notes:

I use the milk I have in the fridge soured with lemon juice. I've tried vinegar and actually bought plenty of buttermilk, but I find the lemon juice way best. I put 3 tbs of juice in a bowl or measuring cup and then add milk to 375 gms (~ 1-1/2 cups).

For flour, I use Robin Hood, a brand most widely used locally, and I believe across Canada.

INGREDIENTS:

250 gms whole wheat flour

250 gms white all purpose (regular or unbleached) flour

6 gms salt (I use fine sea salt)

8 gms baking soda

375 gms buttermilk (see notes above)

PROCESS:

Preheat oven to 425, do not preheat Dutch oven (or whatever you're using to bake it in - see note below)

Mix the dry ingredients well (I use a large whisk), make a well in the middle.

Add the buttermilk and using the handle of a wooden spoon, quickly mix until nearly all flour is incorporated. This should give you a fairly wet & sticky shaggy dough. 

Turn out onto a well floured board or work surface, and knead & fold a few times. Shape into a flat disc ~ 1-1/2-2" thick.

Score an X with a wetted sharp or serrated knife and place into a greased Dutch oven. Cover and place in the preheated for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 10-15 minutes.

RECIPE NOTES:

I have tried this with preheated pans and it never turns out right. 

I haven't tried this with any sort of clay bakeware, but I would imagine it would work, but times will probably need adjusting. I don't own a la Cloche but would be interested to read the results of someone who used one.

In place of a Dutch oven, I have used 2 cast iron frying pans of the same size, using one as a cover.

I find the flavour best before it's completely cooled, and definitely better the same day, as opposed to leftover a day or 2.

drogon's picture
drogon

Looks good!

I often make it for lunch when running courses (or get the students to make it) Mine are much more "rugged" as I don't even pretend to shape them...

I don't always have buttermilk, so natural yoghurt and some ordinary milk works well for me. I don't bother with kneading, shaping or a cloche, etc. just mix it up, tip it out (onto a silicone sheet) dust with flour, push the scraper into it to make the traditional cross and into a hot oven... (them make the soup and when that's done, so is the bread!) I bake it at about 220°C for 25 minutes. I quite like wholemeal spelt variants.

Definitely best on the day it's made though, preferably warm, dripping in butter...

There is a variant called Waterford Soda bread (I think) that's made in a tin.

-Gordon

JamieOF's picture
JamieOF

Hadn't come across that one in my searches. Thank you for posting it.

Jamie

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

During our recent trip to the UK we spent five days in Ireland (near Kinsale) and gobbled up a whole lot of beautiful soda bread. I've been looking for an authentic recipe, so I've bookmarked this one!

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

Allen runs her cookery school and B&B out of her 15th century Norman castle.  One of the great places to stay in Ireland.  I prefer their brown bread and SD bread to the soda bread but all are good.  The recipe is easy to get on the internet.  It is not a batter type recipe for soda bread - they have always been a shaggy mass type of dough that is not to be overworked.  I have never seen a batter type soda bread recipe.

http://www.cookingisfun.ie/how-make-irish-soda-bread

http://www.ballymaloe.ie/

http://www.ballymaloe.com/

Happy baking

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Thanks for the info and links, dab. Sounds like a wonderful place to stay and learn how to cook!

LL

JamieOF's picture
JamieOF

That place is definitely on a short list for places to stay on our next trip across "The Pond".

I have never seen a batter type soda bread recipe

Maybe I didn't make my post clear. What I meant was when I follow that recipe exactly, it comes out like a batter, indicating the flour I use isn't nearly as absorbent as readily available in Ireland. If you compare the recipe you posted and the one from the link I put in the OP, they're nearly identical in ingredient quantities. Which again strengthens my belief of difference in flours.

And yes, mine, with the ratios I use, comes out a slightly sticky and wet shaggy dough.

Jamie

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

buttermilk and using thin milk with vinegar instead?  The latter would be mire like a batter.

I love Ballymaloe for several reasons.  All the people enrolled in the cooking school prepare the meals for guests as sous chefs and then serve them too so when you ask them a question they know the answer.

They grow most of the veggies and meat served on the property - so it is the best local, slow food in all of Ireland - with the 1 Michelin Star - Darina is a great chef who once had 5 restaurants in France if memory serves me correctly.  Rachel Allen, of TV cooking and baking fame, is her daughter in law.   Plus everyone is as nice as could be and willing to help guests with anything

The rooms are killer and each one different plus the secret passageway to the winding staircase to the top of the old caste keep will be revealed to you if you ask the bartender how to get up there where the view of the County Cork countryside is beautiful.  You will have to move the liquor bottles and stand up on the back of the bar to find it though.  Cork is totally different from Dublin - It's Beamish & Crawford Stout - no Guinness allowed there:-)

Part of my family is from Cork, we still have many relatives there and it is very close to Waterford too.  You don't want to miss the crystal factory.  Ballymaloe is one of my most favorite places visited anywhere in the world.  No hustle, no bustle - just lovely.  

JamieOF's picture
JamieOF

Loved that area, but there's not much of Ireland that you can't like.

I hope that recipe works for you, but as I said in the OP and below, don't be afraid to play with ingredient ratios. 

Jamie

cgmeyer2's picture
cgmeyer2

i live in the usa & have always disliked the irish soda bread that is available around st pattys day (i'm half irish). i have a romertoft. i'm going to try this and see if it works.

thank you, claudia

JamieOF's picture
JamieOF

Hi Claudia. I have one I use exclusively for my 40 Clove Garlic Chicken recipe.

When you do try it, let me know how it works. And if at first, it seems too wet or dry, adjust quantities next time as I had to do.

Jamie