Wholemeal soda bread is a favourite of mine. It is possibly the quickest and easiest bread to make. It also includes one of my favourite ingredients, buttermilk. I am continuing on my crusade to encourage more people to bake and cook with this delicious product. It is tangy and rich, and incredibly low in fat. Some people use an egg in their soda bread, but I find a rich, thick buttermilk has enough flavour and depth to stand alone.
I don’t think I can really claim this recipe to be ‘mine‘. It is merely a gentle variation on a tried and tested classic. I like to add a little black pepper to mine, which I learnt from my friend Sue. It adds a warmth and bite that is exceptionally good with cheese or marmalade. I also use spelt (the trendy grain!) because it adds a nuttiness that I love. It is lower in gluten, but for a bread that is not yeasted and doesn’t need to be kneaded (there‘s a pun there somewhere), the gluten content is not important. It’s so quick to put together that it can easily be made in the morning and baked in the oven in time for breakfast.
The smell of this bread and some Irish cheese or salmon or preserve will remind you what it is to be Irish. The taste will bring you back to years gone by and making this bread will remind you that simple pleasures are often the best. I hope that you’ll give it a try.
Wholemeal soda bread
– 150 grams spelt flour
– 150 grams coarse wholemeal flour
– 200 grams plain white flour
– 2 teaspoons bread soda
– 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
– ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (optional)
– 400 ml buttermilk (thick buttermilk is best)
Brown soda bread
– Preheat oven to 190 degrees celcius. Sprinkle a flat baking tray with a generous layer of flour.
– Sieve and mix all ingredients except the buttermilk together . Make sure there are no lumps of bread soda.
– Add enough buttermilk until it forms a soft dough (It should be pretty wet)
– Pull together briefly and shape into a ball. The aim is to get this into the oven as quickly as possible.
– Place on a floured baking tray.
– Cut a cross about a third of the way deep into the loaf with a floured knife. A serrated knife generally makes this job easier.
– Bake for 40 – 45 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the base of the bread is firm and sounds hollow when you tap it. Throw some water into the bottom of the oven or place a tray of water into the bottom of the oven if you like a softer crust.
– Wrap in a tea towel while cooling.
I have baked for as long as I can remember. I grew up on an organic farm in County Wicklow and Maura Laverty’s ‘Full and Plenty’ was my guide in developing the basic skills and knowledge around food. It was this manual and my surroundings that nurtured an interest in local foods and a desire to use familiar ingredients in a creative way.
I work as an Occupational Therapist in the Mental Health services and have always valued the relaxation and pleasure that baking can bring. Since competing in the Great Irish bake Off 2013, I have had new opportunities to bake for a café and write my blog, The Search for Delicious. Baking is still an important part of my personal life, but since doing the show I have a great opportunity to share my recipes and food with people outside my circle of friends and family. I hope to develop recipes that are familiar but different, comfortable but still exciting, and am always delighted when someone tries one of my recipes