The leaves are starting to change. The air is crisp and cool. It was bound to happen sooner or later, being that it is September already. Autumn is making its annual appearance once again. It is a bittersweet time of year really. In one sense, you are sad as the end of another summer is coming to a close, so long hot weather, so long sunshine, winter will be knocking at the door soon. In another sense, Autumn brings with it so many wonderful things: the fall foliage that is beautiful, apple cider and pumpkin pie, that wonderful feeling that you get when you sit down with a hot cup of coffee or tea, not to mention the fall fashions like boots, cardigans, and pea coats!
So this morning, when I woke up and the temperature had dropped 15 degrees from the day before, I decided that I was in the mood to bake. So I fired up the oven and decided to bake a loaf of bread. Being of Irish origin, there are not many breads out there that I feel are better than old fashion soda bread.
Irish Soda Bread is extremely simple to make as it only requires four ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda and buttermilk. Instead of using yeast that is usually the main ingredient when baking bread, baking soda is used as the rising agent. The lactic acid in the buttermilk reacts with the baking soda to create little bubbles which push the dough to expand and rise.
As with most Irish recipes, Irish Soda Bread comes with its share of superstitions. Before baking it, one usually cuts a cross into the top of the dough. According to the Irish, this could be for two reasons: 1) the cross wards off evil spirits or 2) the cutting of the dough before baking allows fairies to escape.
So whether you want to ward off evil spirits or let your fairies out, Irish Soda Bread is bound to warm your tummy on a crisp Autumn day!
Irish Soda Bread
4 cups all purpose flour
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
1 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
Sift flour, salt and baking soda into a bowl and mix together. Create a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour your buttermilk in. Mix the dough with a wooden spoon.
Put dough out onto a floured workspace and kneed with your hands. Dough should be very soft, but not wet. Form into a loaf and put on a baking tray. I brushed some vegetable oil on the top just to get that nice golden brown color, but it's not necessary. Cut a cross into the top of the loaf with a knife. Bake in the oven at 425 degrees for 30 minutes.