More Irish soda bread recipes
Soda bread, together with potatoes, were the mainstays of the traditional Irish diet, but both were prepared a little differently for a special occasion. Halloween was the time for Apple Bread, while Currant Bread provided some fruity nutrition at any time of the year.
Soda farls don't contain anything extra to the basic recipe; the difference comes simply in the way the dough is cooked.
Don't worry if you can't readily buy Buttermilk. You can make your own — it's surprisingly easy. See the right hand column for the method.
Currant Soda Bread
For 1 quantity of soda bread dough
The quantities given below are half those you'll find on the basic Irish soda bread recipe's page but the preparation and baking methods are the same.
Mix the dry ingredients together and sieve twice.
Add the fruit to the dough before kneading into a shape.
Shape the dough into a round 5cm (2inches) deep.
Place on a floured baking tray and bake at 230C/450F/gas8 for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 200C/400F/Gas6 for a further 20-30 minutes.
Roll dough to just over 1cm (half an inch) thick. Cut into four quarters (farls).
Cook each farl on a griddle for 10 minutes on each side or until they sound hollow when tapped.
To serve, split the farl and be lavish with good country butter. Eat immediately.
Using half the dough, shape with your hands into a round, as if preparing the basic loaf, then use a roller to flatten it to half an inch thick.
Place stewed apple mixture on top of this dough, leaving a 2cm (one inch) apple-free edge all the way round. Moisten the edges with a little milk.
Taking the remaining half of the dough, make an identical round and place it over the apple, pressing the edges together as you go.
Place on a floured baking tray and bake at (200C/400F/Gas6) for 45-50 minutes.
How to make your own buttermilk
Our rural ancestors would have either bought their buttermilk from a local creamery or made it themselves.
Back then, buttermilk was simply the liquid squeezed from cream while churning butter. It was used as on a daily basis as a dressing for potatoes and as an essential ingredient in Irish soda bread recipes.
In fact, it turns up in quite a few traditional Irish recipes.
These days, most shop-bought buttermilk is 'cultured' and heat-treated to remove bacteria. It doesn't taste as good to drink as the natural variety, but it's perfectly suitable for baking.
Outside of Ireland, where the home baking tradition is still strong, it can be difficult to find buttermilk in shops.
Fortunately, you can make your own, easily and quickly.
Ingredients for 2.5 pints:
Cream the yeast and sugar together.
Warm the water slightly and mix with the milk.
Gradually add the liquid to the creamed sugar and yeast mix, stirring all the time.
The resulting liquid smells sour but not unpleasant.
Strain it through muslin and your buttermilk is ready for use in any of the Irish soda bread recipes variations on this page.
The quantities above make a larger quantity than you'll need, so why not use up the excess by following this easy scone recipe.