Well, as you know I love to try new recipes and bread is no exception. I have tried many bread recipes during my life and somehow I always have a basic bread recipe that I go back to. However that is a yeast based bread dough.
Today I was craving something different, something new. O.K. not new but new to me. I know that Irish Soda Bread has a great tradition. I was surprised to learn that this is not a recipe from the history books centuries ago, but the 1800s as Bicarbonate Soda (Baking Soda) reached Ireland.
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The ingredients are very basic, consisting of flour, salt, baking soda and butter milk or natural yoghurt which is actually sour milk. Some even use traditional Irish ale as a liquid. I, personally used Kefir today.
Don’t laugh, but I learned the history of the cross on top of the bread, from a movie and when I researched it turned out to be true. They are not for decoration but to ward off the bad fairies. What a lovely tradition.
Well, to continue with the brief history of the Irish Soda Bread… Most people lived in very isolated farmhouses that had open hearths obviously without ovens, so these breads needed to be baked in iron pots the the fire. Of course they got a bread that was very dense yet tender with a bit of sourness and a crispy harder crust than the breads that we are used to.
Traditionally, there are two main shapes of soda bread. In the South, it is formed round with a cross on top. Just like mine today. But up North they are flattened into a disc and a cross is cut into it. Then it is baked on a flat griddle, when ready it is broken into four wedges.
- 450 grams of flour (I used Omega-3 All-Purpose flour)
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 400 ml Kefir (or buttermilk)
Preheat oven to 400F (200C). With a sharp knife, cut a cross into the top of the bread before baking. Bake for about 35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and cool before slicing.