Soda bread only takes 2 or 3 minutes to make and 20-30 minutes to bake. It is certainly another of my 'great convertibles'. We have had the greatest fun experimenting with different variations and uses. It's also great with olives, sun dried tomatoes or caramelized onions added, so the possibilities are endless for the hitherto humble soda bread.
1 lb (450g/33 cups) white flour,
1 level teaspoon/2 American teaspoon salt
1 level teaspoon/2 American teaspoon breadsoda
Sour milk or buttermilk to mix - 12-14 fl ozs (350-412 ml) approx
First fully preheat your oven to 230C/450F/regulo 8.
Sieve the dry ingredients. Make a well in the centre. Pour all of the milk in at once. Using one hand, mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be softish, not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, turn it out onto a well floured board. Wash and dry your hands. Knead lightly for a second, just enough to tidy it up, flip over. Pat the dough into a round about 12 inches (2.5cm) deep and cut a cross on it to let the fairies out! Let the cuts go over the sides of the bread to make sure of this. Bake in a hot oven, 230C/450F/regulo 8 for 15 minutes, then turn down the oven to 200C/400F/regulo 6 for 30 minutes or until cooked. If you are in doubt, tap the bottom of the bread: if it is cooked it will sound hollow.
White Soda Scones
Make the dough as above but flatten the dough into a round 1 inch (2.5cm) deep approx. Cut into scones. Cook for 20 minutes approx in a hot oven (see above).
White Soda Bread with Herbs
Add 2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoon + 2 teaspoons) of freshly chopped herbs eg. rosemary or sage, thyme, chives, parsley, lemon balm to the dry ingredients and continue as above. Shape into a loaf or scones and bake as for soda bread.
Cheese Scones or Herb and Cheese Scones
4 ozs (110g/1 cup) grated mature Cheddar cheese
Make the White Soda bread or herb dough. Stamp into scones, brush the top of each one with egg wash and then dip into grated cheddar cheese, bake as for soda scones, or use to cover the top of a casserole or stew.
Rosemary and Olive Scones
Add 12 tablespoons of chopped fresh rosemary and 2 tablespoons roughly chopped stoned black olives to the dry ingredients and proceed as in the master recipe.
Rosemary and Sundried Tomatoes
Add 1-2 tablespoons (12 - 22 tablespoons) of chopped rosemary, 2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) of chopped sundried tomatoes to the flour and continue as in the basic recipe. Form into a loaf of bread or scones.
Make a white soda bread dough with or without herbs. Flatten into a 1 inch square. Dot the top with whole olives. Brush generously with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, cut into square scones and bake as above.
Ballymaloe Cookery Course by Darina Allen (Kyle Cathie, ISBN: 1856264106, 30.00)