This recipe is one I have been using ever since my sister shared it with me years ago. I had made a few loafs of soda bread which would have killed you outright if they were used as a weapon. My bread always turned out hard and dense. Every time I make this bread for friends or entertaining I am asked for the recipe so here it is just in time to practice for St. Patrick’s Day. This bread is made from fresh ingredients with no preservatives therefore it needs to be eaten within two days to fully appreciate it. (Usually not a problem). It also lasts longer stored in an airtight container. It is delicious eaten with Irish Kerrygold butter available in Trader Joe’s (the cheapest $2.95), Fry’s, Whole Foods or Fresh and Easy.
2 cups of self raising flour (Cheating a little but that is why its called easy)
2 cups of good quality whole wheat flour (I use King Arthur 100% Whole Wheat, Do not use old flour it will impair the taste)
pinch of salt
1/2 oz sugar
1 heaped teaspoon of baking soda
Buttermilk (you can use fat free organic butter milk for a healthier bread. I get at Whole Foods)
Preheat oven to 415 degrees. You need a hot oven to help the bread rise right away.
Mix all the dry ingredients together thoroughly. Add the butter milk and mix to a loose soft dough. You will need to use your hands for the final stage or it may get too wet. If your dough does get too wet just add some more wholewheat flour. Turn the dough onto a floured board and knead into a round loaf. Score the top in a cross. Place in the oven and bake for 50 mins or so. To check if the bread is cooked pierce with a sharp skewer and if its dry the bread is cooked but my favorite way is to turn the bread over and tap the bottom if it has a hollow sound its cooked. The loaf should be golden brown.
To ensure you bread is crusty but not too hard immediately on removing from the oven wrap in a clean tea cloth which has been soaked in water with the excess water wrung out. The bread will steam. Leave for about 10 minutes and unwrap. Your bread will be crusty on the outside but not hard and moist and soft on the inside.
Another great way to eat this bread is to top it with mature Irish Cheddar available from Fry’s or Costo. Needless to say Costco is the cheapest. It is also great sliced and topped with thinly shaved smoked salmon sprinkled with lemon juice. The imported scotch salmon from Trader Joe’s is the best.