Irish Soda Bread {Recipe}

With St. Paddy's Day only a week away, it seems like most of the blogging (and pinterest) world is gearing up with projects and foods of various shades of green and levels of Irish authenticity. I figured it's the perfect time to showcase one of the foods most of the island can agree on. 

Irish Soda Bread Recipe from Give Me Cake

Soda bread, while traditional, is only a more recent invention of necessity. With the invention of baking soda/bicarbonate of soda, it was created as a cheaper and quicker substitute to yeast breads. It is dense and has a slightly acidic taste but pairs very well with fried eggs or a huge pat of butter and jam. Conventionally, it is cooked on a griddle over an open turf flame, but as my apartment complex generally frowns upon that I'll share the oven method instead.

Irish Soda Bread Recipe from Give Me Cake
low lighting in the cottage makes for a grainy photo, but you get the gist. Shoutout to my friend Ashley for taking this photo during her visit last year!
I was originally going to share some links to recipes for it, but most of the recipes I came across included added sugar (most people in Ireland would call that a cake...) and one even had yogurt in it. I'm sure that makes a lovely loaf of something, but don't call it Irish Soda Bread if you're using completely changing the recipe. Call it "Betty's Yogurt Bread" or something. I don't know. Any who... 

The recipe I'm sharing is based on the recipe I received on my visit to the Ulster Folk Museum where a lovely older woman cooks it in the traditional manner in a cottage on the property. I have converted the measurements into things I understand (unless you want to measure out pounds of flour, in which case be my guest...), halved the recipe (because quite frankly the two of us can't eat a whole loaf in one go) and used a loaf pan instead of a cast iron skillet because it's what I've got. Please feel free to double the recipe if cooking for a family- just increase the baking time.

Irish Soda Bread
You'll need (yes, this is it):

Irish Soda Bread Recipe from Give Me Cake

3 cups regular flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup buttermilk  + extra to get dough to consistency

Irish Soda Bread Recipe from Give Me Cake

First, combine the dry ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl, making sure there are no lumps. Use a sieve if necessary. Next, make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk. 

Irish Soda Bread Recipe from Give Me Cake

Mix ingredients until a thick dough ball forms. If you've mixed until you can't mix any more and there's still flour left over, add in a little extra buttermilk at a time until it is all incorporated. The amount of buttermilk completely depends on the quality of your flour. The dough will be very dense. Ignore my whisk in these photos and pretend it's a wooden spoon. I learned the hard way so you don't have to. 

Now the method changes depending on how you want to form your dough, a "choose your own path" if you will.

Method 1: Turn your dough onto a floured work surface, flour the top, and gently knead the dough by folding the corners into the centre. Then either roll out to a half an inch thickness and cut into 4 parts (farls), or shape into a ball and mark an X with a knife in the centre (to keep the demons out). Either way, place onto either a cast iron skillet or floured cake pan.
Irish Soda Bread Recipe from Give Me Cake

Method 2: If you're like me, you'll sprinkle extra flour on and knead the dough lightly in the bowl because you don't like cleaning up flour from your work surface. Then shake it somewhat into a loaf and place in your floured loaf pan.
Irish Soda Bread Recipe from Give Me Cake
smiley has been added to protect the dirty stovetop.
Bake at 425F/220C/200C Fan oven for about 25 minutes, or until the top is browned and it sounds hollow if you thunk it with your finger (technical term). If making a whole loaf (doubling my recipe) increase time to about 45 minutes, but watch it from 35 because ovens are weird and unpredictable. Make wise choices. 

It won't be pretty, but that's ok. The uglier the better, I always say. Serve it with tons of butter and jam, make yourself a huge Irish breakfast and add in some back bacon, Irish sausage (theirs is served in links and doesn't have tons of seasonings in it like American breakfast sausage does), fried eggs, fried mushrooms or tomatoes (or both), and either some black and white puddings or potato farls, depending on what part of the island you're claiming your breakfast hails from. Or be boring and serve it with butter, scrambled eggs, and back bacon because that's what your mail order boyfriend requested. Either way, they'll be appreciative because you just cooked them a hot breakfast.

Irish Soda Bread Recipe from Give Me Cake
... and then i got so excited about the smiley I got a little overzealous with the stickers.

So that's it! Love it or hate it, it's tradition. We're spending St. Patrick's Day in Dublin (for the drinking festivities, not parades) and I'm so excited! Do you celebrate St. Patrick's Day? What do you do?

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