Irish Soda Bread
This is a really quick bread that uses bicarbonate of soda, not yeast, as the raising agent. It’s divine simply spread with some good butter and a little homemade jam, or maybe a hunk of Irish cheese, say Cashel Blue. If you don’t have any buttermilk in the house, sour ordinary milk with the juice of a lemon.
step one: Preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F/ 1 loaf gas 8. Sift the flours, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl. Tip in the bran left in the sieve and stir in with the wheatgerm.
step two: Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk. Using a large spoon, mix gently and quickly until you have achieved a nice dropping consistency. Add a little bit more buttermilk if necessary until the dough binds together without being sloppy.
step three: Knead the dough very lightly on a lightly floured surface and then shape into a large round. Place on a non-stick baking sheet and cut a deep cross in the top. Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 200°C/400°F/gas 6 and bake for another 20–25 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
step four: Transfer the bread to a wire rack and leave to cool for about 20 minutes. Soda bread is best eaten while it is still warm. Simply cut into slices and serve.
- 450g (1lb) plain wholemeal flour
- 100g (4oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 50g (2oz) wheatgerm
- 450ml (3/4 pint) buttermilk, plus a little extra if necessary
- 1 teaspoon salt