If you want to feel a great sense of accomplishment but don?t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen, you might try your hand at soda bread. It is one of those easy recipes that provides nearly instant satisfaction and gratification.
When I was living in Lakeville, I made it frequently on spring afternoons when there always seemed to be time for tea with my daughters, then little girls. It didn?t take long, the house filled with lovely aromas as it cooked and it looked beautiful on the table along with a crock of butter, a jar of jam, a good cheese and a tin of our favorite French p??
It had been a while since I?d made soda bread, but this St. Patrick?s Day seemed like a good opportunity to revisit it. I was so pleased with the results that I?ve made it several times since. It is a perfect recipe when you have kids in the kitchen. A 7-year-old can easily make it with just a bit of help.
Soda bread is as important to Irish cooking as, say, tortillas are to Mexican cuisine. And like tortillas, the traditional recipe remains as important as ever, in spite of all manner of contemporary conceits that have been added. But tortillas that include nontraditional ingredients ? recently I?ve seen chipotles, spinach and sun-dried tomatoes used in commercial tortillas ? are still called tortillas. Soda bread that has such additions as eggs, cream, whiskey, currants or raisins is not soda bread at all, but soda cake, suitable for dessert but not for the main part of the meal.
It is important, I think, to understand and respect such traditions. And then do what you want, as I have done with these recipes.
If you assemble and measure all the ingredients before you begin to mix ? something you should always do ? you?ll be amazed at how quickly this dough comes together and how delicious the results are. It is best hot so if you have any left over, you can slice and toast it or heat it in a hot oven before serving. It is perfect alongside lamb stew and other slow cooked meats and equally good for either breakfast or afternoon tea. Serve it with good butter, honey butter, lemon curd, creme fraiche or your favorite jam. To make absolutely traditional soda bread, you should omit the sugar.
Irish Soda Bread
Makes 1 loaf
?Butter, at room temperature
4cups all-purpose flour, preferably organic
1teaspoon baking soda
1teaspoon cream of tartar
1?teaspoons kosher salt
?cup superfine sugar
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Coat the inside of a 9-inch round cake pan with butter.
Put the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and sugar into a large mixing bowl and use a fork to blend thoroughly.
Make a well in the center of the mixture, pour in the buttermilk and use a sturdy fork to mix the buttermilk into the flour, working quickly, to form a soft dough. Do not overmix; the dough does not need to be smooth and it is OK if you see a bit of dry flour.
Turn the dough into the buttered pan, mounding it high in the center.