Soda bread, (Scotland: Scofa Scottish farl) - is a type of quick bread in which baking soda (otherwise known as sodium bicarbonate) is used for leavening rather than the more common yeast. The ingredients of traditional soda bread are flour, bread soda, salt, and buttermilk. Other ingredients can be added such as raisins, egg or various forms of nuts.
The buttermilk in the dough contains lactic acid, which reacts with the baking soda to form tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide. Soda bread can dry out quickly and is typically good for two to three days; it is best served warm or toasted. In Ireland, typically the flour is made from soft wheat; so soda bread is best made with a cake or pastry flour (made from soft wheat), which has lower levels of gluten than a bread flour.
Various forms of soda bread are popular throughout Ireland. Soda breads are made using either wholemeal or white flour, with the former known colloquially as "brown bread" in the Republic of Ireland. In Northern Ireland the wholemeal variety is known as "wheaten bread" and normally sweetened, while the term "soda bread" is restricted to the white savoury form normally served fried. The two major shapes are the loaf and the "griddle cake", or farl in Northern Ireland. The loaf form takes a more rounded shape and has a cross cut in the top to allow the bread to expand. The griddle cake or farl, is a more flattened type of bread. It is cooked on a griddle allowing it to take a more flat shape and split into four sections.
- Olive oil for greasing
- 250 g (9 oz) plain flour
- 1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1 level teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 225 ml (8 fl oz) buttermilk or live yogurt
- Preheat the oven to 230° C (450° F - gas 8) and place a baking stone or pizza stone towards the top of the oven with enough room for the loaf to rise.
- Important: Ensure that the oven already at the right temperature before you start. This loaf needs no proving as the baking powder or bicarbonate of soda aerates the bread in place of the yeast, however, its action begins once it reacts with moisture, you may loose the 'rise' if you have to wait for the over to warm up.
- Sift the flour, salt and soda in a mixing bowl and add the sugar.
- Stir in the yogurt or buttermilk with a spoon at first, then once amalgamated, with your hands
- The consistency should be pliable and firm, not sticky.
- Knead the dough lightly in the bowl for a few minutes then shape it into a ball.
- Cut a cross in the top of the loaf to enable the loaf to 'flower' as it bakes.
- Place it on a baking stone or a baking tray
- Bake for about 12 minutes, then turn the oven down to 200° C (400° F - gas 6) and bake for a further 15-20 minutes, until the base of the bread sounds hollow when you tap it.
- Allow to cool on a raised grid.
Use spelt flour for a wholemeal-type loaf which is also easier to digest than normal wholemeal flour.
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