Southern Irish Soda Bread Made with Self-Rising Flour

by Min Merrell

As free form as it gets — Irish Soda Bread with the guiding hand of self-rising flour.

Irish Soda Bread is a simple rustic bread made with the ingredients in any Irish farmhouse—flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk. Leavened not by yeast but by the chemical reaction of basic baking soda with acidic buttermilk, the free form loaves are like dense biscuits with jagged, crisp crusts. The kind of loaves R.B. says reminds him of his family of origin.

Sounds easy, and it is, but baking soda can be tricky in Irish soda bread. For proper leavening action, a correct acid-to-base ratio is critical, and the acidity of your acid ingredient can vary. Without enough acid to neutralize the soda, the bread will develop a jaundiced, yellow hue and will give off a bitter metallic wang that hangs in your nose and throat. Not appetizing at all, that wang.

If you’ve had soda bread with too little acid it’s understandable if you’ve lost interest. Modern soda bread recipes often deal with this issue by calling for regular baking powder with a little soda for a more consistent rise and gentler taste. Also popular are the tasty ingredient safeguards of butter, sugar, dried currants or raisins, and sometimes caraway seeds.

Here are two soda bread recipes that work. Eliminate the uncertainties of baking powder and use self-rising flour, just as we do with biscuits, pancakes, and muffins. Self-rising flour already includes baking powder. Just add a little soda and all the good stuff.

This recipe takes minutes to mix up and it bakes beautifully. Yet another recipe we should make more often, free it from the confinement of that March holiday that insists on linking drinking to the Irish. Ah, the Irish.

Try our simple version of soda bread first. It’s delicious topped with butter and jam, smoked salmon, or egg salad. Serve it with your St. Patrick’s Day Irish boiled dinner.

Our second version (below) spiffed up with butter, egg and currants, is a big bready scone. Butter thin slices and put on the kettle for a cup of P&G Tips.

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Mary 2 March 14, 2013 - 7:24 am

I will be trying this on Sunday and will keep you posted on the results, maybe pictures…good or bad! It will be an all Irish day in NM!

Mindy Merrell March 14, 2013 - 2:56 pm

Great! R.B. thinks we need to add a little more salt the the plain version of the bread. Add 1/2 teaspoon.

M2 March 17, 2013 - 4:25 pm

It was awesome!

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