Writings on curious recipes, food I've tasted around the world and the quest for finding the perfect blueberry muffin.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Irish soda bread, a World Bread Day tribute and a long overdue return


When you've been gone for a month you start wondering which recipe is worthy enough of your "comeback" post. A hearty stew which will get you through the colder months? Maybe, but it's nowhere near cold over here. Coffee ├ęclairs? Possibly, if you hadn't run out of icing sugar. A lemon meringue pie? It would have been impressive, if it hadn't collapsed on you.

And just when you think you might as well never come back, because nothing seems to be working, you find out it's World Bread Day, and instead of wondering who comes up with these food days, you simply think thank you, because it just so happens you've been dying to share an extremely easy and quick bread recipe.

So here's a recipe (and a variation) for soda bread. For those of you unfamiliar with soda bread, it's a quick bread which uses baking soda as its rising agent rather than yeast. So no waiting around for the dough to rise, no kneading for 8 minutes. Just sift the flour, salt, baking soda; rub some butter in (optional!), add some buttermilk, mix, mix, form and bake. That's it. That's all there is to it.


Though this bread does come with a warning for those of you who have never had it. This bread has a very particular taste. I remember the first time I came across and tried it was during my year in Dublin. We had all decided to buy soda bread, because it was by far the cheapest bread we could find in what at the time was a very thriving and expensive Ireland. As we excitedly bit into the bread, however, the happiness on some of our faces faded. A few of us couldn't get ourselves to like it. However many, myself included, loved the taste and I found myself craving it in the months after leaving Dublin. 

Not being able to find it anywhere in Vienna, I googled the recipe and discovered that there were thousands of different ways to make it. I decided to go with a recipe from the Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread (because, why not?), and never looked back. Well, until I decided to make it with butter. Because it seemed like a smart thing to do. So here you go guys. One recipe + a variation for soda bread. 

I urge you to give them a try.


Happy Bread Day!  


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So um, I'm back with no explanation of where I have been? No, no. That wouldn't be very nice. If you were wondering about my absence - well, I was in the States for all of September with limited internet access and from there I flew back to London and started culinary school the next day. Which is now going into its fourth (fourth!!) week. And I honestly do not know where the past 21 days have gone, because really, I could have sworn it's only been three very long days. I've gotten more cuts and burns in the last 21 days than in my whole life combined. I have never been more nervous about boiling an egg in my life. I have met some wonderful friends and have had the honor to work with amazingly talented people. The past 21 days have been the most exhausting, physically and mentally draining days of my life (hence my absence, as I was literally falling asleep at 7pm). But they have also been the most exciting, fun, interesting, insightful and happiest days of my life. 

For whatever it's worth, dear readers, here's what I've got to say. Find what you love in life and do that. Because suddenly, you'll love getting up in the morning, you'll stop looking at the watch all the time wondering when you can go home and, well, you might even start to find weekends rather boring. And you'll quite definitely find yourself walking around with a smile on your face. Because life is great when you're doing what you love.

I would like to thank everyone who encouraged me to do this, to sign up and go for it. Who believed in me and nudged me to take this leap when I was hesitant. I thank you so, so much.

I hope, as I get settled into this routine I will not be as exhausted any more and will find the time to regularly update this site. Because I've missed you and this site very much!

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Irish Soda Bread

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340g // 3 cups of whole wheat flour
110 // 1 cup of plain white flour
410 ml // 14 ounces of buttermilk
1 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda.

Variation: 55g / 2 oz of butter 

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Preheat the oven to 220°C // 425 F. Lightly flour a baking sheet. 

In a large bowl sieve together flours, salt and baking soda. If using butter, rub it in until the flour is crumbly. Add the buttermilk and mix quickly with a wooden spoon and then bring it together with your hands - there is no need to knead. Gather the dough into a ball and place it on the baking sheet. Pat the dough down to flatten it and cut a cross on the top of the dough. Cover the dough with a pan/upside down roasting tin and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes. 

When the bread is baked, the bottom of the bread with have a hollow sound when tapped. Cover bread with a tea towel and lightly sprinkle water on the top of the cloth to keep the bread moist. 

Let it cool, then enjoy with a slathering of salted butter!


2 comments:

kalin said...

:-) big miss happy!life is sweet. (wuhuuu, you are back! although i love your reasons for your absence, I am so glad to read your new recipe. following the entries of your blog kind of enables me to feel close to you although we are miles apart.)

doing what one loves is tremendously precious - I am glad that you have found it. your happiness is contagious! i feel very happy for you, about you, with you, ...

littlemissdids said...

kalin! :) thank you so so much for your sweet comment!! it made my day. i can't wait to be sharing some of these treats with you (hopefully soon!) big kiss

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