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Irish Soda Bread

Easter Sunday found me in the kitchen baking another creation from the ‘Three ingredient baking’ recipe book from Sarah Rainey. This time I made Irish Soda bread, using only flour, bicarbonate of soda and buttermilk (other forms of soda bread can include ingredients such as sugar, salt, butter, raisins and eggs and I guess are more ‘cake’-like in nature). What’s so interesting about soda bread, I hear you ask? Well I’m a great fan of soda bread because it’s so tasty and so quick and easy to make, there is minimal handling and short preparation and cooking times.  Traditional bread making utilises sugar and yeast that produces carbon dioxide (and ethanol) to make the dough rise.  Carbon dioxide is produced in the soda bread by making use of the acid-base reaction between the lactic acid containing buttermilk and the sodium bicarbonate. This latter form of carbon dioxide production is much quicker and the soda bread does not require time to rise as the reaction starts more or less as the ingredients mix and continues as the bread is baking.

So how did this soda bread turn out? OK, actually. Crumbly.  Moist. Soda-like.

Food on a table

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I am not sure I can quite describe the taste but what I can say is that it was complemented by cherry and amaretto jam when it came out warm from the oven.

Nacho added olive oil, tomatoes and oregano to make a delicious savoury snack. 

Today I enjoyed a slice with cheese and jam. 

Ingredients

450 g self-raising flour

2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

300 ml buttermilk

Methods

To make your own buttermilk use 285 ml normal milk, add 1 tablespoon lemon juice and whisk thoroughly

Preheat the oven to 240oC/220oC fan

Sift the flour and the bicarbonate of soda into a bowl. Add the buttermilk, and mix. Try to get rid of lumps without overworking the mixture, which will stop the bread from rising properly in the oven.

Once it comes together into a dough, stick your hands into the bowl and turn it out onto a floured surface. Roll the dough over a couple of times, then shape it into a round and gently flatten until it’s about 5 cm thick.

Transfer to a lightly greased baking tray and, using a serrated knife, mark a large cross on the top as if to divide the loaf into four quarters. The cut should go around 0.5 cm deep into the loaf.

Place in the hot oven the first 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 190oC/170oC fan for a further 20 minutes. Stick a skewer into the centre into the centre of the loaf to divide the loaf to check it is cooked through. If it comes out sticky, give the bread another 5 minutes until the skewer is clean.

Remove from the oven the oven and place on a cooling rack. Slice when cool, and serve with butter, cheese or jam. 

Reference: Sarah Rainey, Three Ingredient Baking, page 118

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