Great Aunt Maggie was a great bread maker. I have a big old cookery book that she won as 1st prize in 1920. Exactly 100 years ago. This bread from her hand written recipe book is so so easy to make, if you have never made bread before then this is a great place to start. She added the porridge oats to make it lighter than the normal oven soda and the honey gives just a hint of sweetness. Please put the salt in, it makes such a difference to the flavour.
The wonderful thing is it tastes fantastic and the smell as it cooks even better.
Preheat your oven to 200C / 390F /Gas mark 6
Place the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix together well.
Add half the buttermilk and start to mix it into the dry ingredients using only your hand, continue to add the second half of the buttermilk until you have a soft bread dough. Only mix until combined. Do not over mix. Soda bread does not like to be over handled.
Sprinkle your work surface with flour and using floured hands knead the mixture very lightly, just enough to pull the mixture together and shape it to fit into you baking tin. If you over knead, your bread will be solid and rubbery when cooked.
Grease a 2lb loaf tin or 8” / 20cm cake tin with butter or oil and dust with plain flour. Place your mixture into the tin and make a slit or cross in the middle with a floured knife.
Brush the top with a little buttermilk and sprinkle with porridge oats.
Cook for 45 to 55 mins.
Place a piece of tinfoil loosely over the top of the bread half way through baking to prevent the top over browning while the centre cooks through.
You will know your bread is cooked when you tap the bottom of the baking tin and it sounds hollow. Ease the bread out of the baking tin, it will feel very crusty at this stage. Place it on a cooling rack and wrap it in a damp tea towel while cooling.
Eat as soon as it is cool. Make sure to cut good thick slices and eat with lots and lots of good Irish butter and enjoy.
INTERESTING FACT: A cross is traditionally cut on the top of the Irish soda bread loaf with a knife – often said to ward off the devil and to protect the household.
Legend and symbolism aside, there’s a practical reason for the cruciform shape to be cut into the top of the dough. Slashing the dough lets heat penetrate into the thickest part of the bread and allows the bread to stretch and expand as it rises.
For Staycations, Afternoon Teas and More