St. Patrick’s Day has become synonymous with green beer, but this time around, we’re planning to avoid the artificially dyed beverage in favor of an authentic homage to the Emerald Isle. This four-ingredient soda bread recipe comes courtesy of Ireland-based chef and food blogger Imen McDonnell’s new cookbook, The Farmette Cookbook: Recipes and Adventures from My Life on an Irish Farm ($24, amazon.com), which features traditional Irish fare with a creative twist, like Irish Dulse Miso Soup, which combines the dark-colored seaweed found on the country's rocky shores with the Japanese culinary staple, and, of course, this quick bread. Read on for the full breakdown.
Traditional White Soda Bread
Makes 1 loaf
3 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 ¾ cups buttermilk
1. Preheat the oven to 450˚F.
2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Make a well in the center and slowly pour in the buttermilk. Mix the dough with your hands, adding more milk if necessary, until the texture is soft, but not very wet and sticky.
3. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and shape into a 1-inch-thick round. Cut a cross on the top. Note: According to Irish folklore, marking the top of the loaf with a deep cross lets the fairies out, although it also serves the important purpose of letting the heat escape the loaf while baking.
4. Place a stone or flour-dusted baking sheet in the oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 400˚F for 30 minutes, or until the bread is cooked through. Tap the bottom of the bread to check for doneness; if it makes a hollow sound, it is ready. Let it cool for 10 minutes and serve slathered with butter. This bread is best on baking day, but it will keep for two days in a bread box or airtight container.