Here I am, a woman of Irish descent, making Brown Soda Bread. It just feels right.
Now to be clear, I’m like many Americans, a mixture of nationalities; Irish, Scottish, English, and French.
Since St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner, I picked up an Irish cookbook during our weekly jaunt to the library. As you would imagine, it’s totally full of recipes for blood sausages and lamb kidneys, but it also has a rather large selection of breads and sweet recipes as well.
The base of a Brown Soda Bread has got to be stone-ground whole wheat flour. You want to see those beautiful little specks of grain. Oh and did you know whole wheat flour has a shorter shelf life than all-purpose flour? Keeping it in a sealed container in the refrigerator is your best bet.
There’s very few ingredients to a traditional soda bread.
Buttermilk is a major component. That, along with the baking soda is what gives it the rise.
Some say the traditional “X” is made to let the fairies escape. I don’t know about that, but it makes for a beautiful loaf after it’s baked.
The four even sized pieces that can be broken from that “X” are called farls.
This bread is best eaten the day it is baked. It is wonderful with some butter and strawberry jam or dipped into a nice hearty stew.
(recipe from Real Irish Food by David Bowers)
- 3 cups stoneground whole wheat flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 425F.
Combine the dry ingredients. Add enough buttermilk to make a stiff dough. (I used the full 1 3/4 cups.) Sprinkle a little flour on a baking sheet and turn dough out onto it. Shape into a circle and use a sharp knife to slice a large X about an inch deep across the entire surface.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, until risen and golden-brown on top. The bottom should sound hollow when tapped. Wrap in a clean towel and cool completely on a rack before slicing.