For the month of September Meredith from the Poco Loco Olsons challenged us to experiment with soda bread. This quick bread relies on chemical reactions between baking soda and the acid in buttermilk (sour milk), so no yeast is allowed. Contrary to popular belief, soda bread was not invented by Irish bakers. In fact, food historians give credit of first using soda to leaven bread to the Native Americans, who used pearl ash to help their breads rise.

Traditionally, Irish soda bread can be white or brown, sometimes contains raisins, and often has a cross in the top of each loaf. White soda breads are often enjoyed at breakfast or to soak up stew at dinner. This recipe was taught to Meredith’s parents during their first trip to Ireland in 1985. It has since become a family favorite and never ceases to delight especially when eaten warm, smeared with freshly churned butter.

IRISH COUNTRY BREAD

Ingredients:

2½ cups (625 ml) sour milk or buttermilk

2 cups (500 ml) (300 gm) (10½ oz) whole wheat flour

4 cups (1000 ml) (600 gm) (21 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour

2 teaspoons (10 ml) (10 gm) baking soda

1 teaspoon (6 gm) salt

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to hot 450°F/230°C or gas mark 8 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  • Mix the dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients.

  • Pour the sour milk/buttermilk into the well. Mix the dough until flour is completely incorporated.

  • It will be very stiff. Transfer dough to the prepared baking sheet. Pat the dough into a circle shape.

  • It should be approximately 1 inch/2½ cm thick. Now make several dimples in the top of the dough.

  • Place the baking sheet on the middle rack of the preheated hot oven and bake bread for 30 minutes.

  • Reduce heat to moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6. Pull baking sheet out from under dough.

  • The parchment will be directly on the oven rack. Bake for 10 more minutes or until golden brown.

Daring Bakers September 2015 Challenge