I was once asked – by an American, of course – why there was no soda in Irish soda bread. What? That’s like asking why there are no chocolate chips in chocolate chip cookies. She apparently had a “traditional” soda-bread recipe from her family that contained no soda. I’d say that’s not soda bread.
In Ireland, brown soda bread is called brown bread, no need to specify. I’ve made it for years from a recipe I found in an Irish magazine when I lived in Dublin. When we are in Ireland, we eat as much as possible – you’ll know why once you try it. Brown bread is on the breakfast table at hotels and B&Bs and it’s offered with soup at lunch; at dinner time, you have to ask if they have any left. Brown bread is fast, healthy and extremely tasty. It’s March – make some today.
Marty’s Irish Brown Bread
(This recipe uses weight measurements; it’s the only way I’ve ever made it.)
8 ounces whole wheat flour
8 ounces white flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. soda (yes, soda!)
1 Tbl. butter
11 ounces buttermilk (this is a half-pint of buttermilk, but it’s half of an Imperial pint)
1 egg, slightly beaten
Mix dry ingredients, then rub in the butter. Mix in buttermilk and egg. This can all be done by hand or with a mixer (don’t over mix). Press into a greased loaf pan or round casserole dish. Bake at 425 degrees F for about 30 minutes. You can turn out the loaf and tap on the bottom to check for doneness; if it sounds hollow, it’s done. Turn out, and wrap the bread in a damp tea towel and place on a rack until the bread is completely cool. Cooling it in a damp tea towel will keep the crust from getting too hard. Enjoy!