Soda bread

16 Sep

Soda bread

Soda bread and I have never got on… My go-to quick bread has always been baking powder biscuits – I could throw together a batch with my eyes closed, and they would turn out light as air, fluffy and delightful.

Soda bread is another story. Whatever I do, it turns out heavy as rock, dense and… undelightful. I still remember making it for the first time in Home Ec. The ugly brown lump that emerged from my oven had a crust like rhinosaurus hide and a sullen, pastelike interior. It had somehow doubled in weight– though not in size – and could have been used as a weapon in close combat.

So when the Great British Bake-off contestants were tasked with producing a signature quick bread, my first thought was to make something based on biscuit dough. That would have been the easy way to go…

And if I had to share the final result with Paul and Mary, that’s just what I would have done. But since I was able to fail quietly in the privacy of my own home, I decided to give soda bread another shot.

Reading up on the subject, I learned that soda bread should be handled as little as possible. And the quicker you can get your loaf into the oven once the buttermilk and baking soda are combined, the better the final result will be.

I took this to heart, roughly shaping my shaggy dough into a passable ball and firing it straight into the oven in less than two minutes. I’m sure the resulting loaf was better for it. Even so, soda bread won’t be replacing biscuits as my quick bread of choice any time soon…

Soda bread
(makes 1 loaf)

  • 450g cake flour
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 284ml buttermilk
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
  2. Sift the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda into a large bowl.
  3. Make a well in the centre and add the buttermilk. Stir until the dough forms a shaggy ball.
  4. Turn onto a lightly floured surface, and knead a couple of times.
  5. Form the dough into a slight flattened hemisphere and transfer to on a lightly floured baking tray.
  6. With a sharp knife, cut a cross into the top of the loaf.
  7. Bake for about forty minutes, until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped on the bottom.
  8. Cool on a wire rack.

Soda bread

2 Responses to “Soda bread”

  1. Adam Garfunkel September 16, 2015 at 9:22 am #

    Excellent with stews but also great as a snack with a bit of jam…

  2. Yana September 16, 2015 at 10:05 am #

    It looks wonderful, Andrea, great crusty topping!!

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