Every March, I try to get in touch with my Irish heritage. I don’t drink whisky, and I can’t stand Corned Beef and Cabbage. I still have traumatic flashbacks to being made to eat it as a child. Blah! But, I do like bread. So I turn on the oven and whip a few loaves of Irish Soda Bread every year around St. Patrick’s Day.
I have a family recipe for soda bread handed down from my Irish great-grandmother. She grew up in the U.S., so I had a suspicion the recipe was “Americanized”. I went in search of “real” Irish soda bread and found I was right. There isn’t any buttermilk in our family recipe. But according to my research, the authentic stuff only has buttermilk, flour, salt and baking soda in it. No sugar, no raisins, no eggs and no regular white milk like some recipes ad. It was peasant bread made with poor-man’s ingredients.
So I bought a bottle of buttermilk at the store and went to work in the kitchen. Actually, making soda bread isn’t really much work at all. You stir all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, make a well in the center then stir in the milk. You turn the dough out onto a floured surface and need it lightly for just a minute or two. It’s very sticky dough and does end up all over your fingers. Then you pat the dough into a round cake pan and slice the dough with a knife, creating four triangles. You use a second cake pan as a lid to cover it. Then it goes in the over for 45 minutes.
The bread comes out crusty on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside with a bit of a bite, like sourdough. It’s great slathered in butter and jam. If you happen to like Corned Beef and Cabbage, this bread is perfect for sopping up the juice.
So get yourself a bottle of buttermilk and impress your family with authentic Irish Soda Bread this St. Patrick’s Day.
Authentic Irish Soda Bread Recipe
4 cups of flour
1 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp of salt
14 oz of buttermilk
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease a round cake pan.
In a large bowl, stir together dry ingredients. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour in the buttermilk and stir until a sticky dough forms. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead lightly for a minute or two.
Pat dough into a round cake pan. Use a knife to cut an X in the top of the dough. Cover with the other cake pan.
Place in the over for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the top cake and pan and bake an additional 15 minutes.