St. Patrick’s Day soda bread. This recipe was handed to me by Terry who considered it to be the very best she had come across for soda bread. And, she is right. We have cooked these breads up a couple of times and en mass, adapting the original recipe to ensure that you get perfect results every time!
First let’s take a quick look at how Irish soda bread came to be. Ireland does not have a climate conducive to growing high gluten flours that rise easily using yeast. However, Ireland’s so-called ‘soft wheat’ respond very well to the use of bicarbonate of soda and these breads are known as ‘bakery bread’. With the migration of many Irish to North America, where bicarbonate of soda is simply called ‘soda’, the name ‘soda bread’ came into use.
When Terry first handed me her recipe, I noticed that soda bread is made very much in the same way as the English make scones. The only difference is that the dough for scones is more firm. You can see how easy it is to make scones with our tried and tested recipe for Peach Yogurt Scones, adapted from the original recipe we acquired from the Savoy Hotel, London.
Scones and soda bread are probably the easiest breads you will ever make so we hope that you have a go. This particular soda bread is sweet, although you can adapt it for making a more plain bread which would be served with the main meal and used for mopping up sauces and gravy.
This Sweet St. Patrick’s Day soda bread is great for breakfast and serving for a quick brunch or afternoon tea.
Irish soda bread: ingredients for up to 16 servings of Soda Bread
- 3 cups (375 grams) all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon (15 grams) sugar
- 10 grams baking soda
- 1 1/4 cup (300 mls) buttermilk
- 1/2 cup (120 mls) unsweetened apple sauce
- 2 tablespoons (30 grams) salted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (60 grams) raisins or cranberries
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.
- In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk, apple sauce and butter.
- Add the apple sauce mixture and dried fruit to the flour and stir, using a spoon or or hands, until you have formed a dough that is neither too soft nor too firm.
- Turn out onto a clean work surface and knead the dough into a round, roughly the width of your hand and as deep as your thumb.
- Place the dough onto some parchment paper, cover loosely with more paper and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. If your dough is not too soft or firm, as it rests it will relax into a dome.
- Preheat the oven to 375 F/ 190 C.
- Lightly grease a baking tray.
- Place the dough onto the baking tray and using a sharp knife, cut a cross into the top to about 1/4″ (1/2 cm) deep. Brush the top with some milk and place in the centre of the oven for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. If it begins to brown too quickly, simply tent with some foil.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.