What is Soda Bread? When I first heard of it, I thought it was bread made with actual Soda Pop! It is not! Soda bread is a quick, heavy bread made with baking soda as the levening agent. The earliest references of using "baking soda" as a levener are through the American Indians who began using potash in their breads centuries ago.
So, how did soda bread became so completely Irish?
Soft wheat is the only wheat that is really able to grow in Ireland's harsh climates and soft wheat does not do well with yeast. Yeast needs gluten to rise and soft wheat just does not provide the gluten. Bicarbonate of soda was introduced to Ireland around the 1840s. The Irish had discovered that using baking soda instead of yeast and adding an acid, like sour milk, would give them a quick bread. By 1845, the Great Potato Famish was in full swing and it is believed that it spurred soda breads popularity, giving rise to many different types of soda bread. Soda bread is an easy, quick, and cheap bread to make; all you need is flour, salt, baking soda, and sour milk (modern recipes call for buttermilk), so one can see how it would become popular during the Potato Famine.
The first tip I want to give you is that this dough is very wet so you want to use plenty of flour to make it easier to work with so it doesn't stick to everything.
As you can see, I've liberally sprinkled flour over the counter and over the dough
Place your scones on a parchment (or silpat) lined baking sheet. You can brush the tops with buttermilk, cream, or - if your lazy (like me!) - you can spray it with oil from your Misto! Bake in 425 oven for about 20 minutes. You can test the bread by dipping a toothpick in the middle and it come out clean or by tapping on the bottom of the bread, it should sound hollow.
mmmmm, can't wait to dig in!
Yield: 8 scones
3 cups All Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon salt (I used Kosher)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1.5 cups buttermilk (or sour milk if you have some milk that is past the expiration date!)
- Preheat oven to 425 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
- Whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk. Mix with a wooden spoon until you have moist dough.
- Flour your work surface well, dump out the dough onto your floured work surface, sprinkle the dough with flour and shape into an 8" disk. Cut into 8 pieces. Scoop the scones onto your baking sheet.
- Brush with oil, cream, or buttermilk.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown and/or a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean
mmmm, soda scone with marmalade
1. History of Irish Soda Bread by Abigails Bakery, LLC, http://www.abigailsbakery.com/bread-recipes/history-of-irish-soda-bread.htm
2. Irish Soda Bread History by Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread, http://www.sodabread.info/Sodabreadhistory/sodabreadhistory.htm
3. The History of Irish Soda Bread by Food History, http://www.kitchenproject.com/history/IrishSodaBreads/index.htm