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Many Irish farmhouses, housewives, Grannies and Mammies  have their own Irish Soda Bread recipe, and this is my humble cottage kitchen version. One I stick faithfully by and never lets us down when real creamy Irish butter beckons.  Most traditional soda breads are basically the same and vary little in terms of ingredients.  However I find the tip  is not to overwork or knead the dough too much or have the oven too hot during the entire baking, or a chainsaw bread massacre will ensue when carving (no matter how damp the tea-towel when wrapping the loaf to soften the crust!).

  • 450g /1 lb plain white flour
  • 1 level tsp bread soda
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp fine sea-salt
  • 330 – 450ml / 12-15 oz buttermilk (or sour milk)

Pre-heat oven to 230C

Sift the flour and bread soda together in a large bowl.

Add the sugar and salt mixing briefly.

Make a well in the centre and pour the first measurement of 330/12 oz of buttermilk in.

With a stiff hand mix quickly together and if too dry add another two ounces of buttermilk or more if needed.  Sometimes depending on how cold the flour is determines the amount of liquid needed, or brands of buttermilk can differ.

Bring together quickly with a light stiff hand and turn out onto a floured board.  If the mixture is too wet, sprinkle on a small handful of sifted flour and knead gently for five seconds or so, just to bring the dough together.

Flour a non-stick baking tin or grease lightly and then flour an old tin.

Place the dough into the prepared tin, pressing into the corners and cut a one inch or 2cm cross  completely across the dough.  This traditionally is known as ‘letting the fairies out!’.

Bake at 230C for 10 minutes, and turn the heat down to 190C for another 30-35 minutes or so.

When the base of the tin is tapped and you hear a hollow sound, then the bread should be ready.

Leave to cool in the tin for five minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack. 

You can wrap it in a damp clean tea towel at this stage if you like…

It carves better when cold, but is ooh so gorgeous hot with melting real Irish butter.

*My Grandmother always told me never to eat hot bread as it would give me a belly pain – and it always did, but it still never stops me!