Utilizing just four ingredients, this recipe naturally lends itself to variation. You can easily enhance it with a handful of your favourite fresh herbs (chives are wonderful here), dried fruit (cranberries or blueberries, for example), spices, cooked and crumbled bacon, or a couple of tablespoons of jam or fruit preserves swirled through the uncooked batter.
This wonderfully simple and deeply delicious recipe resonates with the spirit of Irish cooking and pairs just as beautifully with other Celtic flavours (think cabbage, gammon, leeks) as it does with dishes from other ethnic backgrounds. I love this hearty soda bread alongside barbequed foods, corn on the cob or simply paired with a flavourful salad for lunch or a light supper (it’s also rather spectacular spread, while still piping warm, with homemade peach jam).
I’ll be firing up the stovetop and cooking a pan of this classic soda bread with a slight twist, tonight as an accompaniment to soup made with the first tender spring vegetables that are starting to appear at the market, baked potatoes, and blackberry sorbet for our celebratory March 17th dinner.
Wishing everyone a delightfully festive St. Patrick’s Day that’s as bright and enjoyable as a spectacular Irish rainbow!
•1 cup buttermilk
•½ tsp fine sea or kosher salt
•1 tsp baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
•1 cup self-rising flour
Combine all ingredients together in a mixing bowl then turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead the dough with your hands for about 4 minutes, then shape into an 8-inch (wide) ball. Dust the blade of a sharp knife with flour and slice the ball in four equal sized quarters.
Heat a non-stick griddle or frying pan over medium high heat (if your stovetop veers on the really hot side, “medium” heat may be sufficient) and place the 4 dough portions in the pan (note, if you don’t have a non-stick pan, use a cast iron griddle or heavy bottomed frying pan in which you melt a tbsp of butter before placing the dough into the pan).
Cook the soda bread for about 5 minutes on each side, ensuring that it’s cooked through evenly. You will want to watch it carefully and check often to make sure that the bread in not getting too dark for your taste (if it’s browning before you feel it’s cooked through, reduce the heat).
As soon as this rustically lovely soda bread is finished cooking, transfer it from the pan to a serving plate and bring to the table, complete with plenty of creamy butter (if you can find actual Irish butter, all the better!), and commence eating at once.
Wrap any leftovers in brown paper and then plastic wrap, store in a cool spot for up to two days.
Makes 4 side dish sized portions of soda bread.
Erin Go Bragh!