A true quick bread that requires no yeast, this loaf gets its tender crumb from buttermilk. Good with a bowl of hot soup or with a wedge of sharp Cheddar cheese and cooked ham.
Yield: Makes 6 servings
3¼ cups bread flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp butter or lard, diced
1¼ cups buttermilk or 1¼ cups whole milk mixed with 1 tsp cider vinegar
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Dust a baking sheet with flour. Sift the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt together into a bowl. Add the butter and rub in with your fingertips to form fine crumbs.
2. Make a well in the center. Pour in the buttermilk and then mix to form a soft dough. Knead briefly on a lightly floured work surface. Shape into a ball, then roll on the work surface to smooth the surface.
3. Place on the baking sheet, and lightly flatten the top. Using a floured knife, cut into 6 equal wedges, without completely cutting all the way through the dough.
4. Bake for 30–35 minutes, or until golden brown and the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
Brown Irish Soda Bread
Replace 1½ cups of the bread flour with whole wheat flour.
Leftovers will become dry after a day, but make good toast and croutons for soup. Or, make bread crumbs for using in other dishes, and freeze until needed.
Look for buttermilk in the dairy section, or make a substitute by stirring 1 tsp lemon juice or cider vinegar into 1 cup milk and letting it stand for 5 minutes.