Irish soda bread

This is the about the quickest bread you can make as it is not leavened. It is traditionally made with buttermilk. However it works just as well with kefir which is what I normally use. Kefir is a fermented milk product which is extremely easy to maintain and I have a continuous supply.

Ingredients

Oven at 220C, 425 F, gas mark 7.

Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Rub in the fat with your finger tips. Slowly add the kefir or whatever you are using until a nice kneading consistency is achieved. If you over do it, then add more oats or flour. You must not knead this dough.

Quickly make two round loaves. Put them on an oiled oven tray and with the back of a long knife mark lines across. Traditionally Irish soda bread has four sections. With my family I find that twelve sections works out much better, so I divide each quarter three more times. This way we just break away the small portions thus avoiding the use of a knife.

Bake in a very hot oven for 20 to 30 min until ready.

Add fresh herbs like thyme or sage. Grated cheese also goes well and some people even add onions. And of course the flours can be changed too. A bit of barley flour adds a lovely flavour to the soda bread. For a sweet version add dried fruits like sultanas or raisins. Bread is the most accommodating of all foods. Just use your imagination.

Maria Fremlin, 09 March 2001, Colchester, England

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