Irish Soda Bread
Ireland is commonly known for their love of Guinness and potatoes. Yet they are also widely known for their traditional Irish Soda Bread. The bread has been a staple in their culture for hundreds of years. Irish mums started their day with preparing bread. The ingredient list for this bread is very minimal and there is no proofing involved. This bread is incredibly easy to bake yet still delicious with a spread of butter. The preparation can take less then 15 minutes and baking time is 35 to 45 minutes in the oven. You can use a variety of flours, white all-purpose, whole wheat or a combination of both. The two tips for the a successful loaf of bread are mixing the baking soda into the flour using a whisk to distribute it evenly, and to make sure you cut a cross at least a third deep into the loaf before you bake it. Also adding raisons, sultanas, and walnuts transform the classic soda bread into a fruit loaf and partnering it with a mug of tea would be a perfect afternoon snack. Hopefully this inspires you to put your apron on and make a little mess. For more recipes and tips follow us on mycollingwood.ca and visit us at The Collingwood Cooking Academy.
Chef Philip Tarlo
Irish Soda Bread
500g plain flour (may use whole wheat or combination)
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp fine sea salt
Approx 400ml buttermilk or live yoghurt
A little milk, if necessary
Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir in the salt. Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk, stirring as you go. If necessary, add a tablespoon or two of milk to bring the mixture together; it should form a soft dough, just this side of sticky.
Tip it out on to a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly for about a minute, just long enough to pull it together into a loose ball but no longer - you need to get it into the oven while the bicarbonate is still doing its stuff. You're not looking for the kind of smooth, elastic dough you'd get with yeast-based bread.
Put the round of dough on a lightly floured baking sheet and dust generously with flour. Mark a deep cross in it with a sharp, serrated knife, cutting about two-thirds of the way through the loaf. Put it in an oven preheated to 200°C/400F and bake for 35-45 minutes, until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath.
Cool on a wire rack if you like a crunchy crust, or wrap in a clean tea towel if you prefer a soft crust. Soda bread is best eaten while still warm, spread with salty butter and/or a dollop of your favourite jam. But if you have some left over the next day, it makes great toast.
For six-seed soda bread, mix together 2 tablespoons each of sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, poppy and linseeds, plus 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds; set aside. Follow the main recipe but use half white flour and half wholemeal flour. Add all but 1 tablespoon of the seeds to the dry ingredients before proceeding as above. After cutting a cross in the top of the loaf, brush it with a little buttermilk or ordinary milk and sprinkle with the remaining seeds. Bake at 200°C/400F for 40-45 minutes.
Image Courtesy: chefinyou