Ahead of our national feast day, what could be more quintessentially Irish than soda bread?
It's far from sourdough that we were reared, and sometimes the comfort of something so traditional is just what's called for.
OhArtagain Dunlavin Soda, 600g, €3.59, 9/10
This hand-crafted bread is made at a specialist soda bread bakery in Ballyboden, Co Dublin. The ingredient list is a joy: wholemeal flour, wheat bran, steel cut oats, wheat germ, buttermilk, free-range egg, demerara sugar, bread soda, sea salt. That's it. It has a sweetish crumb, a dark, savoury crust and a dense texture. Excellent.
Marks & Spencer Irish Soda Bread, 400g, €2, 8/10
Light and slightly sweet, our testers were very positive about this brown soda bread from M&S. Definitely the one to pick if you have a sweet tooth; will be popular with children. The only soda bread light enough to make a sandwich with, thought our testers.
Aldi Phyllis's Soda Bread, 600g, €1.59, 8/10
Phyllis McGovern was the winner of Aldi's National Brown Bread Competition last year. She serves the bread each morning at her Ashleigh House B&B in Co Waterford. Ingredients include trendy chia seeds and the consistency is more dense and less sweet than some of the other soda breads we tested. Very good.
John McCambridge Brown Soda Bread, 500g, €1.99, 7/10
Probably the most widely available soda bread in Ireland, McCambridge Soda Bread is, according to the packaging, made by hand with Irish flour and fresh Irish buttermilk. Although sugar is listed as one of the ingredients, there is little sweetness on the palate.
Lidl O'Connell Bakery Buttermilk Soda Bread, 600g, 75c, 6/10
Our testers were impressed with Lidl's bargain soda bread, which has decent flavour and texture, but disappointed to see palm oil listed as an ingredient.