Monday, March 16, 2015

Irish soda bread

1 pound (450 grams/ 3 1/4 cups) white flour, preferably unbleached
1/2 American teaspoon salt
1/2 American teaspoon bread soda ( baking soda)
Yogurt or buttermilk to mix - about 12 to 14 fluid ounces 

First fully preheat your oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).

Sift the dry ingredients. Make a well in the center. Pour all of the milk in at once. Using 1 hand, mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be softish, not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, turn it out onto a well floured board.

WASH AND DRY YOUR HANDS. Knead lightly for a second, just enough to tidy it up, flip over. Pat the dough into a round about 12 inches (2.5 centimeters) and cut a cross on it to let the fairies out! Let the cuts go over the sides of the bread to make sure of this. (FYI this is actually pretty critical. The bread is so dense the center has a hard time cooking through. This helps heat get to the middle)
Bake in a hot oven for 15 minutes, then turn down the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) for 30 minutes, or until cooked. If you are in doubt, tap the bottom of the bread: if it is cooked it will sound hollow.

Soda bread only takes 2 or 3 minutes to make and 20 to 30 minutes to bake. It is certainly another of my 'great convertibles'. We have had the greatest fun experimenting with different variations and uses. It's also great with olives, sun-dried tomatoes or caramelized onions added, so the possibilities are endless for the hitherto humble soda bread.

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