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A Simple Irish Soda Bread

You may well see a host of different recipes for Soda Bread popping up in magazines and all over the internet. Many of these are good wholesome and simple recipes that have been handed down for a few generations. Some of them, however, have no resemblance to the traditional and basic Soda Breads that we, here in Ireland, have grown up with.

Traditional Irish Soda Bread ready for Breakfast!
So here is my simple Soda Bread recipe. It uses baking powder, which is a mix of baking soda and cream of tartar, instead of just baking soda. This bread is quick and easy to make and it tastes great served with butter, my home-made Rhubarb & Ginger Jam (recipe)   or Blackberry and Apple Jam (recipe) and a big mug of hot tea!

My Ingredients:
800g household (plain) flour
1 teaspoon of Baking Powder
pinch of salt
200g real butter
1 fresh egg
300ml cold water + 100ml milk (mixed together) approximately

Preheat the oven to 175°C, 345°F, Gas mark 4.

Cross the top of the bread to let the heat get in to the centre
 My Method:
  1.  Mix the flour, salt and baking powder together quickly with a whisk, or slowly with a sieve if you prefer.  Rub the butter into the flour, with your fingers, until it is all finely mixed in.
  2. Beat the egg, milk and water together in a jug and add 80% of this (you can't take it out again!) to the dry ingredients. Mix this in with your hand and bring it quickly together into a soft dough. Add the rest of the liquid if you need it. Do not over knead the dough or you will make the bread 'heavy'.
  3.  Turn it out on your worktop and knead it gently, turning by 1/4 each time and just enough to smooth the face of the dough – 6 or 7 turns should do it.
  4.  Place it, smooth-side-up, on a floured baking tray and flatten the bread to about 3.5cm (1 and a half inches). Cut a cross in the top of the dough, cutting no more than ½ way through the bread. Gently push the knife to both sides as you cut to widen the gap.
  5. Pop it into the oven, on the middle shelf, for 40 minutes. 5 minutes before cooking time is up, remove the bread from the tin, turn it upside down and pop it back in the oven to finish cooking. This will give the bottom crust a nice crunch.
  6.  Test the bread, by inserting a skewer into the thickest part, to make sure it’s cooked and if not give it another 5 minutes in the oven. The skewer should come out clean when cooked. Slide the bread on to a wire rack and let it cool before cutting it.

Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate) needs an acidic addition (traditionally buttermilk) to make it rise and would have been the original method of raising the bread. 
Baking Powder is made with baking soda but has Cream of Tartar added to it, as an acidic agent. You can still add a little buttermilk, for taste purposes if you wish.

Cutting the cross in the top of the bread had originally nothing really to do with aesthetics!  It was done to let the heat into the centre of the bread so that it would bake evenly. It was also a form of portion control and facilitated breaking the bread into even pieces when you were out working in the fields or the bog! Make this for your family & friends and do enjoy!

and my Blackberry Ice Cream is Here!


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