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Two Takes on Irish Soda Bread

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Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread

Never made bread before? Give Irish soda bread a try. It really is that easy. And it really is Irish.

With St. Patrick’s Day around the corner, it’s also a natural.

Soda bread is baked in “countless cottages around Ireland,” writes Hugo Arnold in “Avoca Café Cookbook,” an indispensable souvenir I picked up on a trip to Ireland years ago and have sworn by ever since.

“Simple and cheap to make, with easily obtainable ingredients, it fed hungry farmers and their families for years,” Arnold says. “Today it is as popular as ever, as honest simplicity appealing in an age when food seems to get ever more complicated.”

For a simple variation, try adding raisins. They give the bread a little added sweetness, which makes it a perfect addition for breakfast. And as Arnold points out, it takes so little to put it together that you could serve it hot out of the oven.

Soda Bread

Add the buttermilk slowly.

Add the buttermilk slowly.

1 pound flour
1 level teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
14 ounces buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Mix the flour, baking soda, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Gradually mix in the buttermilk to give a moist dough. Place in a greased loaf pan and bake for 30 minutes, until the loaf sounds hollow when turned out of the tin and tapped underneath. Place on a wire rack to cool.

Makes 1 loaf.

From “Avoca Café Cookbook”

Fruit Soda Bread

1 pound flour
1 level teaspoon baking soda
1 ounce sugar
Pinch of salt
1 ounce raisins
14 ounces buttermilk

Tap the bottom to see if the bread is done.

Tap the bottom to see if the bread is done.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Dried fruit gives soda bread extra flavor.

Dried fruit gives soda bread extra flavor.

Mix the flour, soda, sugar, salt and raisins in a bowl. Then slowly add the buttermilk and mix well to form a dough. Shape it into a mound, place in a greased loaf pan and bake for 20 minutes. Lower the heat to 325 degrees and continue baking for 25 more minutes.

The loaf should sound hollow when you turn it out of the pan and tap the bottom; if in doubt, turn it upside down and bake for a further 10 minutes. (If you’ve greased your bread pan well, this is easy to do.) Leave the loaf on a wire rack to cool.

Editor’s note: Because you are cooking this bread at a lower temperature than in the recipe above, the crust of the bread will be noticeably lighter.

Makes 1 loaf.

From “Avoca Café Cookbook” by Hugo Arnold with Leylie Hayes

 

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