16 March 2009

Irish Soda Bread

Tonight is my first attempt at Irish Soda Bread. I went first to my Test Kitchen baking book, but when I discovered that I didn't have any cream of tartar (I'm in shock), I had to search Epicurious for an alternate recipe. Supposedly, we Americans have mutated the traditional Irish Soda Bread into something unrecognizable to the original. Given my limited supplies tonight, I was quite glad there is nothing to it.

There's something about dipping my hands into white flour that is so comforting. I don't know if it's just that it's soft, or that the touch pulls me back into my earliest days of baking.

But I digress. In the vein of being ill-supplied, I also did not have buttermilk. Luckily I know a quick trick to solve that. Just combine 1 cup of milk and 1 T of lemon juice or white vinegar and let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. Does the trick. As rare as I buy buttermilk, it comes in handy.

The results are in (yes, I'm typing this REAL time)...and it's good! Well, at least it looks good.


  1. It looks good and I'm sure it tastes great. I'm a great lover of Bread.

  2. OMG I am so addicted to Irish Soda Bread. I bought some from the store and it was kind of dense. Then I had it at this beer brewing place a couple weeks ago and it was almost like a biscuit. Do you know what makes it more biscuit-like versus scone-like?

  3. The recipe I tried just had flour, buttermilk, baking soda and salt. It was really dense. My Test Kitchen recipe had all those things, but subbed 1 cup of the all purpose with cake flour (which is much finer and will produce a finer crumb, read: crumbly), as well as cream of tartar, which is a stabilizer. I think those things would've made it more biscuit like.

    When working with a dense, non-yeast bread, you need to be careful not to overwork the dough, as it will become more dense and tough. When you knead, you break down gluten. So the stuff that makes french breads more chewy and delicious makes non-yeast breads/biscuits tougher and denser.

    I think I just gave you about 10 times as much info as you requested. Basically, it depends a bit on the recipe.

  4. Buttermilk comes in real handy, doesn't it? What soda bread recipe did you use? I've never made soda bread, but now my interest is piqued.

    Sweetfern Handmade

  5. I used this one from Epicurious.com: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/White-Soda-Bread-1907. The recipe said it was the real deal. I made a couple of mistakes and it didn't turn out as well as I had hoped, but it was ok. I think I'll try the Test Kitchen next time.

  6. Oh what a coincidence; I just used the faux-buttermilk trick last night when I was making pancakes.