Soda bread is quick and easy to make, and since there isn't any yeast involved, there is no need to wait for it to rise.
The slightly soured taste works exceptionally well with smoked fish such as slamon or mackeral. It's also a fantastic sharing bread, substantial enough to withstand a serious dunking in the rich olive oil and balsalmic vinegar.
Here is a basic foolproof recipe for Irish soda bread courtesy of www.Recipes4us.co.uk, but we recommend experimenting and diversifying the flavours by adding different herbs and ingredients to this basic recipe, depending on what you are eating it with, and what you have at hand.
For instance garlic and rosemary is a classic combination which will complement an Irish stew or daube of beef. Take eight sprigs of rosemary and remove the needle like leaves. Slice four to eight of cloves of garlic thinly, depending on how much you like garlic, and knead two-thirds of the rosemary and garlic into the bread, and scatter the rest on top of the loaf before baking.
Dill and poppy seed bread is fantastic with smoked fish. If you are using fresh dill chop a good couple of handfuls finely, and knead into the bread with two tablespoons of poppy seeds. If you are using dried dill, knead a couple of tablespoons into the bread, and an equal quantity of poppy seeds. Scatter a few poppy seeds and a little dill on top of the loaf before baking.
Other combinations could include sundried tomato and oregano bread; fennel and chilli bread; olive and garlic, or olive and Italian mixed herbs; and pumpkin seed and thyme bread.
Makes 2 x 20cm/8-inch round bread
Total preparation and cooking time: 40 minutes
225g/8oz Plain Flour
225g/8oz Wholemeal Flour
1 level teasp Bicarbonate of Soda
2 level teasp Cream of Tartar
1 level teasp Salt
300ml/10fl.oz. Buttermilk (approx) or full-fat milk
1. Preheat the oven to 200C, 400F, Gas Mark 6 and line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
2. Sift the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl the rub in the butter.
3. Add most of the buttermilk and mix to form a fairly soft dough, adding the remaining buttermilk if necessary.
4. Turn onto a floured surface and need for a few minutes until very smooth. If you are adding any additional ingredients such as herbs or garlic, then add them at this stage.
5. Divide the dough into two, form each portion into a round flatish loaf, then make a fairly deep X cut in each.
6. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Best eaten the day it is made.