Confession: Until about 6 weeks ago, I thought that Irish Soda Bread was made with club soda…somehow? Thanks to 101 Cookbooks, I stand corrected (and only mildly embarrassed).
It’s actually soda of the baking variety, that magical compound with dough-raising qualities. (Also an awesome gentle abrasive for cleaning and making science-experiment volcanoes with vinegar “lava”). Instead of yeast, baking soda enables this bread to be made with a mere 4 ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk. Of course, people have gotten fancy with it adding things like orange zest or oat flour or whole wheat flour.
I followed 101 Cookbooks’ recipe and used what I think was oat bran, not oat flour, but the flavor was excellent. Topped mine with some carraway seeds and everything seed topping. Rich and dense but also somehow light and very slightly metallic from the baking soda.
To my knowledge, I don’t have any truly Irish ancestors, but you may remember that St. Patrick’s day is on its way. And in case you want something interesting to celebrate with (or to soak up all the green beverages that make their appearance this time of year), this soda bread won’t disappoint. It’s really one of the simplest breads I’ve ever made, ever. Mix, knead, bake.
Click here to learn more about the “real soda bread” (as distinct from all those poser soda breads).