Irish Soda Bread

Rivka Benarroch,

Rivka Benarroch
Rivka loves cooking and feeding people - the more the merrier! Visit her on a Friday night and you will find about 20-30 young professionals sitting around the table enjoying their food and wine. A teacher by profession, her other main love is buying shoes - the higher the better! Rivka loves discovering, adapting and making new recipes for people to try. Her one confession: she doesn't enjoy the decorating side of baking, and prefers to stick to things that don't need much thought put into their presentation. She also gets bored easily, so likes to keep constantly busy! Rivka also blogs on Follow Rivka on twitter @TweetMyWheat...

Do you ever get put off the notion of making bread because the idea of it sounds too complicated? Well I have just discovered the quickest and easiest bread to make - Irish Soda Bread. It has minimal ingredients, little time to knead and needs no more than 20 minutes to rise. It’s also milky so will be suitable for those observing the no meat regulations during the 9 days.

Due to keeping kosher I sometimes feel limited in the things that I can try before having to make them myself. Irish Soda Bread is one of those foods that I have never had the opportunity to taste as the last time I checked, the kosher bakeries in the UK don’t sell it. I have an Irish colleague who mentioned the bread and I thought it would be a good opportunity to make it so that she could taste it and give me an honest answer if the outcome is what it should taste like.

Having had a week off my bread challenge last week, I decided that it was time to give the Irish Soda Bread a go. The basic ingredients for this bread are a mixture of Wholemeal and White Flour, Buttermilk, Salt and Baking Soda. The reason for the basic ingredients is due to the fact that this bread was devised in Ireland (hence its name) in poor economic times during the 1800s. At the same time bicarbonate of soda was introduced into Ireland. It was cheap and easy to make, proving to be a staple in the Irish home.

A few weeks ago I treated myself to one of Paul Hollywood’s bread recipe books and he seemed to have a nice recipe for the Soda Bread. He suggested using white flour and adding butter and milk to the mixture.

Before I begin a baking session I usually make a trip to the local kosher shop first to ensure I have all my ingredients. I had never used buttermilk previously and wasn’t sure I even knew what I would be looking for on the shelf. After asking for assistance it seemed that buttermilk is not stocked in the kosher shops. I was beginning to worry that I may have to abandon my bread challenge this week  I made a bold decision and decided that I was going to use cream instead.

It turned out to be very easy dough to make and didn’t require much, if any, kneading. I flattened the dough into two flat oblong shapes, allowing them to rest for 20 minutes. They went into the oven with a dusting of flour for 20-30 minutes until they had risen and were nice and golden. There was a lingering buttery aroma which was very inviting.

I wasn’t sure how the bread was supposed to taste, especially as I had altered the recipe slightly. As my colleague didn’t complain too much and that both loaves were finished, I’m assuming it wasn’t too bad. I am not convinced though that it tasted exactly the same but I thought it was nice and moreish.

If I were to make it again, I would try adding wholemeal flour and sourcing kosher buttermilk. Also I have been told that its best served with soup or jam and butter. Would love to hear if you have had experience of making this bread and what you like to eat it with.