The warm and comforting smell of brown soda bread wafting from the kitchen has cheered and nourished countless generations of Irish people after a hard day's work in the fields and bogs. It is the quintessential Irish bread.
Occasionally we add a small fist of fine stoneground oatmeal, 1 egg or 1oz/30g butter to make a richer soda-bread dough.
Irish wholemeal flours are coarse and nutty with a rich wheaten flavour.
The various textures will produce different types of bread.
Makes two loaves.
YOU WILL NEED
560g/1¼lb brown wholemeal flour (preferably stone ground)
560g/1¼lb plain white flour
2 rounded tsps salt
2 rounded tsps bread soda (bicarbonate of soda), sifted
750-900ml/1¼-1½ pints sour milk or buttermilk
First, pre-heat the oven to 230°C/450°F/Gas Mark 8.Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add most of the sour milk or buttermilk, all in one go. Working from the centre, mix with your hand and add more milk if necessary. The dough should be soft but not sticky.
Turn out on to a floured board and knead lightly, just enough to shape into a round. Flatten slightly to about 5cm/2in deep.
Put on to a floured baking sheet.
Mark with a deep cross and bake in the hot oven for 15-20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6 for about 20-25 minutes, or until the bread is cooked and sounds hollow when tapped.
Cool on a wire rack.