I thought since it was St Patricks Day I’d share some photos of Ireland and my Grandma’s recipe for Soda Bread. One of my favorite things in the world! Grandma didn’t actually use scales. She used an old tea cup to measure but I wanted to do it properly so I did as she did but then measured everything!
You can make this with all white flour if you prefer but please, for the love of all that’s sacred, do NOT make it with all wholemeal flour.
I did once. I’ll never do it again. It tasted like crap and it blocked my stomachs drain hole for almost a week! The mix of white and wholemeal is perfect and tastes absolutely delicious.
Eating it is like having Grandma sat back beside me. All is well with the world.
This is a very quick bread. Start to finish it’s about ten minutes work plus the cooking time. You can be eating this in under an hour although Grandma would crucify me for eating the bread before it cooled and “set”! As she’d chastise me gently “It’ll give you the gripes cailín rua!”
Grandma’s Soda Bread
12oz plain white flour
12 oz plain wholemeal flour
4 oz quick cook porridge oats*
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
20 – 25fl oz buttermilk (I’ve written it like this because of the difference in US and English pints) Some flours need more liquid, also you’ll need more if you add the oats.
* Grandma never added oats. Ever. I quite like it with them but I leave them out depending on my mood. It’s not authentic.
Preheat the oven to 400f and dust a baking sheet with flour.
Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl THEN add the soda. The salt reacts with the soda so that was just the way Grandma added them.
Pour in the buttermilk and mix it in quickly with a knife or a spatula, then bring the dough together very lightly with your fingertips (handle it very, very gently) Too much handling knocks the gas out ( that’s the only rising agent in it) and this bread is a dense bread already.
Now shape it into a flattish round loaf. I like to have it peaking up slightly in the middle but that’s purely for looks. Hey don’t knock it, big pesky bits haven’t done Dolly Parton any harm!!
Put the loaf on the baking sheet and score a deep cross in the top. Traditionally, this lets the fairies out! (but it also helps the bread to cook through evenly.)
Bake for 30-35 minutes until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. If it isn’t ready after this time, I turn it upside down on the baking sheet and bake for a few minutes more.
Transfer to a wire rack, cover with a clean, damp tea towel (this keeps the crust nice and soft) and leave to cool.
To serve, break or cut into quarters, then slice – or you can simply slice across the loaf. Eat very fresh. Perfect with thick butter, jam and a nice cup of tea or with soup – but always with good butter!
Happy St Patrick’s Day!!