I read a novel set in Ireland this week and this is the happy result: traditional Irish Soda Bread for tea. The recipe comes from http://www.sodabread.info/. It is the simplest recipe I have ever used and it is absolutely delicious. I did not include the optional butter, thus justifying plenty of butter on the warm bread.

3 cups (12 oz) of wholewheat flour (I used Hodgson Mills graham flour, which has a nice, rough texture)
1 cup (4 oz) of unbleached white flour
Approximately 14 ounces of buttermilk
1 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
2 ounces of butter (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425 F. degrees. Lightly grease and flour a cake pan. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. Rub in the butter, if you use it, until the flour is crumbly.

Add the buttermilk to form a sticky dough (pour in a bit at a time until the dough is moist). Place on floured surface and lightly knead (too much allows the gas to escape).

Shape into a round flat shape in a round cake pan and cut a cross in the top of the dough.

Cover the pan with another pan and bake for 30 minutes (this simulates the bastible pot). Remove cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

The bottom of the bread will have a hollow sound when tapped to show it is done. Cover the bread in a tea towel and lightly sprinkle water on the cloth to keep the bread moist. Let cool and you are ready to have a buttered slice with a nice cup of tea or coffee.

irish-soda-bread