Somewhere between a yeast bread and a biscuit lies the celebrated soda bread of Irish cuisine. The delicate interior contrasting with the crusty exterior makes for a delicious accompaniment to many savory meals. Green onions add a peppery bite, green olives the occasional saltiness, and a pat of Irish butter something just right.
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
¼ cup sugar
1½ teaspoons salt
1½ teaspoons baking soda
5 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons olive oil
2½ cups buttermilk
½ cup chopped green onions
½ cup chopped green olives
4 cloves (1 tablespoon) fresh garlic, peeled & minced
½ cup shredded Dubliner cheese or white aged cheddar
What Is Soda Bread?
Although the Irish cuisine has perfected this bread, soda bread-making originated in North American among indigenous tribes who used pearl ash as a similar leavening agent. Many believed the Irish immigrants to North America learned how to make the bread from their Native American neighbors. Basically, Soda bread is a quick bread that uses bicarbonate of soda, or baking soda, as its leavening agent, to create a free-form loaf with a biscuit-like crumb. The immediate chemical reaction from the buttermilk combining with baking soda produces lactic acid, creating soda bread’s unique mildly sour flavor. Commonly, one forms soda bread into a boule or flattened disk, scores it with a cross into four sections, and bakes in a high-temperature oven or on a hot grill.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a cast iron skillet with parchment paper up the sides. Set aside.
Measure the flour with the scoop-and-swipe method to keep it from compacting. Sift the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda in a mixing bowl to remove any extra clumping. Stir in the rolled oats with a fork, and set aside.
In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the melted butter, olive oil, and buttermilk until emulsified. Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour in the buttermilk mixture. With your hand, work the dry ingredients into the wet, just until combined. Toss in the green onions, green olives, fresh garlic, and shredded cheese. Work them in by hand, kneading the soft, moist dough very gently about 8 to 10 times to form a rough, shaggy-looking ball. Avoid adding extra flour unless the dough is too wet and lacking a good structure.
Place the ball in the parchment-lined cast-iron skillet. Using a sharp blade, deeply score across the dough’s top, then crosscut from the center outward to create 4 sections. If desired, sprinkle with additional green onions, green olives, fresh garlic, and shredded cheese.
Bake the loaf for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 180°F to 190°F when tested at its base. Slice or tear apart to serve. Makes 1 loaf.
Recipe Created and Stylized by R. Shannon Mock
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