This has almost nothing to do with the sweet, minimally whole-wheat stuff they sell around St. Patrick's Day, complete with raisins moistened with Irish whiskey. (In Ireland, that's a "tea cake".) Irish Soda Bread began as a rock-bottom basic food, something that could be made out of ingredients that would be found in any farmhouse kitchen, no matter how poor. It only has four ingredients (five, if you use the variation), and it's easy enough that even children can make it with a bit of supervision. It goes well with soup or stew, or with cheese, or even just a bit of butter. It has an earthy, wholesome aroma and flavor, a close but not coarse crumb, and a good crunchy crust. And it's made out of stuff that's good
for you!IRISH SODA BREAD
Preheat the oven to 425° F. Grease a cookie sheet, or one or two pie pans.
2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
Whisk together the dry ingredients. Make a well in the center and stir in the buttermilk, until the whole thing comes together in a ball. Sprinkle a work surface with a bit more of the whole-wheat flour, and knead the dough a few times, just to make sure it's an even texture. Shape it into a ball, place it on the pan, and cut two deep lines across the top at right angles. Bake at 425° F. for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350° and bake about 30 minutes more, until the bottom sounds hollow when tapped, and/or an instant-read thermometer reads 200° to 210°. Cool on a rack before slicing.
For one large loaf, or two small ones, simply double all the ingredients. Bake a single large large loaf at 425° F. for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350° and bake about 45 minutes longer.Variation:
Instead of fresh buttermilk, you can use SaCo powdered buttermilk
(I always keep some in the fridge - it keeps forever, and it's very handy). Add 1/4 cup to the dry ingredients before whisking, and use water for the liquid. I also like to use King Arthur "white whole wheat" flour
instead of traditional whole wheat, but that's entirely a matter of taste.