Soda Bread

soda bread

Soda Bread

I used to make this now and then and somehow got out of the habit. On St. Patrick’s Day I like to honor the small bit of Irish ancestry I have and made this Irish Coddle. I also made some Soda Bread to go with it and my eldest loved the bread. It’s probably a sad sign of something that she can’t remember having it before, although I did used to make it regularly. It’s much easier (and faster!) than yeast bread and much less fussy. The rising happens because of the interaction of buttermilk and baking soda (hence the term Soda Bread) rather than the more touchy temperature-impacted interactions of yeast.

Typical recipes call for buttermilk, which interacts with the baking powder to make the bread rise. I didn’t have any buttermilk so put to test the substitution I’ve seen of adding lemon juice (or vinegar) to plain milk to make it coddle (?) and be like buttermilk. Let me tell you it works just fine! At least in this kind of recipe.  Drinking it would not taste like buttermilk I’m sure.

It’s interesting to me that if you heat milk and add lemon juice (or vinegar) you get paneer cheese,, which I have made a few times.  But if you need buttermilk to cook with and don’t have any, just add 1 Tbs lemon juice to 1 Tbs less than 1 cup of milk and stir, then let sit for 5 minutes or so.  I made the 2 cups of buttermilk called for in this Irish Soda Bread that way (except I used 2 cups milk to start with so had to add some more flour) and the bread was fantastic! I was kind of surprised actually.

Irish Soda Bread

  • 3 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups buttermilk (or just under 2 cups milk mixed with 2 Tbs lemon juice left to sit for 5 minutes)

Preheat the oven to 450F. If you have a baking stone, put that on a rack to preheat too.

Mix the flour, salt and baking powder together.

Add the buttermilk and stir together. The dough should be slightly soft but not too sticky or wet.

Turn onto a floured surface (board or counter) and knead a few times. If it's too wet (as mine was because I didn't think about the fact that I added 2 Tbs lemon juice to the liquid really ), add some more flour and knead it in.

Shape the dough into a rough circle by folding the top over and under, then pat down until it's about 1 1/2" high.

Put the dough onto the preheated stone or onto a baking sheet.

Slash a plus sign + into the dough, all the way to the edges. The cuts help the bread rise.

Bake at 450 F for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 400F and bake another 30 minutes.

You can test to be sure it's cooked through by tapping on the bottom and listening for a hollow sound.

Cool a bit on a wire rack and then slice.