Time from start to warm bread: 1-1.5 hours
Type: quick bread
Bake: 40 minutes at 400
AP Flour 400g 800g 1200g
Wh. Wheat 160g 320g 480g
Butter 2T 4T 6T
Buttermilk 1 ½ c 3c 4 ½ c
Cream of Tartar 1 ½ t 3t 4 ½ t
Baking Soda 1 ½ t 3t 4 ½ t
Salt 1 ½ t 3t 4 ½ t
Sugar 1 T 2T 3T
Honey 25g 50g 75g
Cardamom ¼ t ½ t ¾ t
Currants – hydrated palm 2 palm 3 palm
This was one of my first breads, and still one of the most requested. If you’re in the mood for some fresh bread and can’t wait long, quick bread is the way to go. Want something for Sunday brunch, or maybe a nosh for afternoon tea? Think Irish soda bread. Going out to a potluck and only have a few hours to come up with something? Repeat after me: Irish soda bread. Now go preheat your ovens, lasses and ladies, because this will be done in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.
It’s chemically-leavened, which sounds scary until you understand that it rises from the reaction between acid and alkali, just like when you made vinegar and baking soda volcanoes in elementary school. Or like me, you pretended to be “cleaning the drains” when it was really an excuse to dump stuff in the sink and watch it foam up. In this recipe the acid comes from buttermilk, and alkali is the baking soda and cream of tartar.
This one’s easy because you mix up all the dry ingredients at once. For the cardamom, I buy seeds, not pods, and crush them into fine powder right before I use them. The aroma is intoxicating, but before you leave it out of the recipe, try it once and you’ll be hooked. Now cut up the butter into quarter-sized chunks and toss them in the dry mix. Using either a pair of knives or a pastry cutter, slice and mash up the butter until the dough feels crumbly. Just think, this hard work will pay off when you’re having a warm piece of bread! Sing yourself a sea shanty or quick reel and you’ll be done in no time.
Now add your honey, buttermilk, and currants and mix with your hands until the dough can hold itself together. If you’re scared that it’s a little dry or a little crumbly, it should be okay as long as it doesn’t fall apart as you handle it.
Form it into a rough sphere, plop it down on a sheet of parchment, and flatten it into a disc roughly two inches thick. I like to dust the top with flour then cut a cross in the top about ½” deep. Slide it in the oven and bake for forty minutes, rotating once halfway through.
This bread is perfect as breakfast toast slathered with butter or as a thick slab served with a pint of stout. The whole wheat gives it just enough rusticity that in the first bite you imagine you’re wearing a hand-knit Aran sweater and peat-crusted wellies while you shake the rain out of your hair onto the uneven stone floor of your crofter’s cottage. Let yourself get carried away by the romance of Irish soda bread—sláinte!