Bread baking has long been part of Ireland’s culinary heritage. The earliest breads were little more than thin oatcakes baked over the fire on an iron plate or placed directly on embers. In the mid-1800’s bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) was introduced and the birth of soda bread, as it is known in Ireland today, was born.
My first introduction to Brown Soda Bread was at the kitchen table of my mother-in-law. Every week she made a loaf from scratch. She worked quickly and efficiently, as only a woman who raised twelve children can do, and when the bread came out of the oven the smell was just delicious!
Both nourishing and comforting, Irish Soda Bread is perfect in the morning for breakfast, as part of a sandwich at lunchtime or served with a hearty homemade soup or a green salad fresh from the garden in the evening.
Brown Soda Bread
Makes One Loaf
225g self raising flour
225g extra coarse wholemeal
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon salt
about 450ml buttermilk
1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Put a little vegetable oil into a bread tin and put the tin into the oven to warm. When the oil is warm, use a pastry brush to get it all over the inside of the tin. Set aside.
2. Sieve the two flours, the soda and salt in a large bowl.
3. Make a well in the centre and pour in most of the buttermilk.
4. Using a wooden spoon or your hand, stir the liquid into the flour. The dough should be soft but not sticky. If needed, add more buttermilk to get the right consistency.
5. Put the mixture into the bread tin and bake for one hour in the center of the oven. Ease the loaf from the tin and tap the bottom. If it sounds hollow when tapped it is cooked. If not, put it back into the oven for another 5-10 minutes. There’s no need to put the loaf into the bread tin for this, just place it right on the rack in the oven.
6. When baked completely, cool on a wire rack.