Classic Irish Soda Bread

March 8, 2012

No Saint Patrick's Day celebration is complete without a loaf of freshly baked Irish soda bread.  It's name comes from the use of baking soda as the leaving agent in the bread instead of yeast.  The mixing of baking soda with buttermilk causes a chemical reaction (carbon dioxide)  which makes the dough rise.  In this recipe,  sunflower seeds and oats have been added to give the bread some texture but feel free use raisins or currants.  Serve this Irish soda bread with a stick of heavenly Irish butter.

Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients:

3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 T baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup sunflower seeds (1/4 cup for decoration)
1 cup oats
1 tsp salt
2 c. buttermilk
scant 1/2 c. water
 
Directions:
 
Put oven to 400 F
 
Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl and make a well in the center. Add the buttermilk and stir until you have a dry pale dough.
 
Add water a little at a time until the dough comes together. Make sure you don't add too much water as this can make the dough too wet and give the loaf an impossibly hard crust.
 
Lightly dust a workspace with some flour. Knead the dough and keep adding flour till it becomes easy to work with and roll into a ball.
 
Place the ball on a lined baking sheet and shape it out into a circle or an oval shape like the photo above.
 
Score a cross into the loaf with a knife and sprinkle the 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds on top, pushing them into the dough gently. Bake for 20 mins, turn the tray around, and bake for another 20 mins.
 
Let cool for 20-30 mins. If you cut into it as soon as it's out of the oven, the bread will turn doughy at the centre and won't be a very nice texture.

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