Use Herbs in Irish Soda Bread

November 3, 2008

Guest Article

By Agnes Farside

Irish soda bread was and still is very popular in Ireland, dating back to approximately the mid nineteenth century. During that time bicarbonate of soda was brought to the country and replaced the leavening agent yeast, which Irish people were using at the time. Some makers of Irish soda bread will cut a cross across the top of the loaf before baking. There are several meanings as to why this is done, one being that it wards off evil, another, like the hot cross bun, is to symbolize the Christian cross, and yet another is that it only helps to indicate equal portions for cutting.

To me Irish soda bread is similar in taste to a buttermilk biscuit, although it does no resemble it in appearance. Buttermilk, a main ingredient in Irish soda bread, has lactic acid. This lactic acid, when mixed with the baking soda, provides the leavening agent needed to make the bread. You can use either wheat or white flour which when made from the wheat flour, the bread is referred to as “Brown Bread.” The bread can be shaped into round loaves or flattened and cooked on a griddle, which it is then referred to as “Griddle Cake.” You can add just about anything to Irish soda bread, the preference being raisins, but I prefer to use fresh or dried herbs.

There are many recipes for Irish soda bread, but this is the one I prefer.

4 cups of flour

2 tsp salt

2 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp baking soda

4 Tbsp butter

2 cups buttermilk

1 lightly beaten egg

2 Tbsp fresh chopped herbs or 4 Tbsp of dried herbs (your choice – rosemary, thyme, sage, chives, etc.)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mix flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda together in a large mixing bowl. If you are using dry herbs, you can add them now.

Add butter and using a pastry cutter, mix with dry ingredients until mixture is coarse. Make a well in the center, add the egg and buttermilk (if using fresh herbs, add them at this time) and mix until dough is stiff. Dust hands with flour, turn dough out on floured surface and slightly knead into a rough, ball.

Shape dough into a round shape and place on lightly greased baking sheet or cast-iron skillet. A serrated knife works the best if wanting to make a cross on the top. This cross should be about one-half inch deep.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until golden brown. Tent with aluminum foil if top starts to brown too much.

Irish soda bread is best eaten while warm and it will only last two to three days.

Other items to put in Irish soda bread are: any dried fruit or vegetable such as apricots or sun-dried tomatoes, olives, nuts and caraway seeds.

Author Agnes Farside Resource:

Article Source: Use Herbs in Irish Soda Bread
Article From: Organic Gardening Articles

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