Irish Soda Bread can be white – called ‘Scofa’, the kind you get in Greggs, or brown – called ‘Wheaten Bread’ in Northern Ireland. I always make the brown version but the method and amounts are the same for both. Traditionally, it’s made with buttermilk, but any vegan milk works fine – it’s the reaction of the bicarb of soda with the cream of tartar (tartaric acid) that does all the work and makes it rise. Really quick and easy to make – no kneading.
For every 500g strong bread flour
1 handful of wheatbran – optional, but nice – usually to be found near the breakfast cereals in the supermarket.
1 level teaspoon of salt
2 level teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda
2 level teaspoons cream of tartar
About 300ml (1/2 pint) milk/buttermilk/plant based milk
Pre heat your oven to 200 celsius/gas mark 6. In a bowl, mix all the dry ingredients and combine thoroughly – it’s worth adding the soda and the cream of tartar through a sieve or a tea strainer, so you don’t get yellow blobs through your bread – also be careful not to be over generous with these two, ‘cos there’s a fine line before it tastes too soda-ry.
You can bake this on a baking tray or in a loaf tin – whichever you use, dust with flour or wheatbran (for a loaf tin, dampen the sides, then dust) – you need to do this first, because it needs to go straight in the oven, once you’ve mixed in the liquid.
Add most of the liquid and mix – you want a mixture that looks wet and sticky, but not splurging all over the place – the consistency of a rich fruit cake mix/chunky wet concrete/cold porridge. Add the rest of the liquid until you get there – if it looks too sloppy, add a bit more flour. Transfer to tin or tray – if you’re making it on a tray, score the top with a large cross.
Pop in the oven, on the middle shelf and bake for 40 minutes, until it’s well risen and golden brown. As with all bread, you can test whether it’s done by tapping the bottom of it for a hollow sound. Leave to cool on a rack. When it’s fresh, the brown version is almost impossible to cut finely, but gets easier after a day or so.