Soda bread is remarkably quick and easy to make. There is no yeast involved, no proving or kneading, you just mix everything together, shape it and bake it! All the rising comes from the reaction of the baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) and buttermilk.
This Fruit Soda Bread is a firm favorite in the Traybakes’ household. While best eaten on the day it’s made (especially with a generous slathering of butter) it’s also good toasted, if you have any left after a day or two!
The trick with soda bread is to work lightly and quickly. And for minimal effort, you end up with a loaf that is ready to bake by the time your oven has heated up! I’ve given a range for the amount of buttermilk needed as I sometimes need more and sometimes need less. I think the amount you need varies depending on the way the wind is blowing or the day of the week or perhaps it’s something to do with your flour or elevations or something more technical. But whatever the reason, it’s best to err on the side of caution at first and add more buttermilk, rather than having a wet dough and having to add more flour.
The wholewheat version, more commonly known as Wheaten Bread from where I come from, is equally delicious and will, no doubt, feature on the blog in the future.
450g/1lb/3½ cups plain flour (all-purpose flour)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1 tbsp sugar
150g/6oz/1 cup dried fruit (I used raisins)
2 tbsp maple syrup (or honey)
300-350ml/10-11 fl oz/1¼-1½ cups buttermilk (or milk with 1 tbsp lemon juice)
1. Sift the flour, salt and baking soda into a large bowl.
2. Add the fruit and sugar and mix together.
3. In a separate bowl or measuring jug, mix the egg, syrup and about ¾ of the buttermilk. Add to the dry ingredients and combine until you have a soft, but not sticky dough, adding more buttermilk, if needed.
4. Turn onto a floured work surface and bring together into a round. Transfer to a lined baking sheet and cut two deep slashes on the top, horizontally and vertically. This helps the bread to cook evenly (or lets the fairies out…you decide!)
5. Bake at 400F/200C for about 30 minutes or until golden on top and hollow-sounding when you tap the base.
6. Cool on a wire rack. Slice, butter and enjoy!