Irish Soda Bread

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Soda bread has long been a staple in Ireland. It is a bread made without yeast, because baking soda mixed with buttermilk is used as a leavening agent. A cross is cut into the top of the bread to help it rise and, according to Irish folklore, to either ward off evil or let the fairies out.
Makes 1 loaf
Vegetable oil, for oiling
32⁄3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
13⁄4 cups buttermilk

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Oil a baking sheet.

Step 2

Sift the flour, salt, and baking soda into a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in most of the buttermilk. Mix together well using your hands. The dough should be soft but not too wet. If necessary, add the remaining buttermilk.

Step 3

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it lightly. Shape into an 8-inch circle. Place the loaf on the prepared baking sheet and cut a cross into the top with a sharp knife.

Step 4

Bake in the preheated oven for 25–30 minutes, until golden brown and it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool slightly. Serve warm.

Step 5

Adapted from "The Complete Irish Pub Cookbook," published by Parragon Books.

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