Irish soda bread has been one of Ireland’s staple foods for centuries and is the ultimate quick bread. This rustic looking round loaf of bread is made without yeast and is so simple to make. This recipe uses spelt flour for exceptional flavor.
Irish soda bread is made with four ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda and buttermilk. When the acid in the buttermilk is mixed with the baking soda it create a reaction causing the bread to rise. That reaction begins immediately so you need to be quick to stir this together with very little kneading and then get it into the oven quickly.
After the loaf is formed, traditionally, a deep cross is slashed on the top with a sharp knife which opens up during baking. Folk lore says that this is to “let the devil out” while it is baking. It also could be that it is easy to divide into four equal pieces. This hearty bread toasts up nicely and tastes delicious slathered with creamy butter and homemade jam. It is great in mopping up the gravy from stews .
Irish soda bread is also made into ‘farls’ and they are cooked in a cast iron skillet. The dough ingredients are the same as the bread but the difference is after it is mixed. To make the farls the dough is flattened out and the cross is cut all the way through so there are four equal triangular pieces. They are popped onto the skillet, cooked then served hot. It is a favorite for breakfast.
- 3½ cups (420 g) white spelt flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1¾ cups buttermilk
- Preheat the oven to 424°F, prepare a baking sheet by spraying with cooking oil
- Sift the flour salt and baking soda together into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in 1½ cups of the buttermilk, reserving ¼ cup. Mix the buttermilk into the flour quickly to make a soft dough but not wet and sloppy. Add the reserved quarter cup of buttermilk if needed. Remember to be quick as the rising action has started.
- Turn the dough out on a floured surface and give it 4 or 5 quick kneads, forming it into a 6-inch mound. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet and with a sharp knife cut a cross on the top about ¼ inch deep.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. Until golden brown. Check for doneness by lifting the loaf off the baking sheet and tapping on the bottom. If it is done it will sound hollow.
- Allow the bread to cool for a few minutes on a baking rack, serve warm.