Soda Bread is a quick bread that does not require any yeast. Instead, all of its leavening comes from baking soda and buttermilk. It’s dense, yet soft and has the most incredible crusty exterior. The secret ingredient is buttermilk. Soda bread only requires a few ingredients: flour, oatmeal, olive oil and buttermilk, which reacts with the baking soda to provide the bread’s leavening. It also adds wonderful flavor!
Here in Italy it is not common to find buttermilk, and so I did as most Italians do: I prepared it myself. My recipe for buttermilk is equal to 340 ml milk + 2 tablespoons apple vinegar, stir and let rest for 10 minutes.
I substituted the butter in the original Irish recipe with olive oil – an Italian twist to a traditional northern recipe. I love to eat it for breakfast with some jam or honey, but I also suggest trying it with some spicy cheese like pepperoncino-flavored pecorino, my recommended Italian topping to enjoy the Irish recipe.
PANE CON BICARBONATO DI SODIO (SODA BREAD)
520 g (4 scarce cups) type 0 wheat flour or all-purpose flour + some for kneading
100 g (1 cup) oatmeal flakes + a few spoons to dust the dough
10 g (2 tablespoons) granulated sugar
10 g (2 teaspoons) sea salt
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
7 g (1 heaping spoon) baking soda
350 ml (1 ½ cups) buttermilk or milk + 2 tablespoons apple vinger
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400 °F) and set baking rack in the middle. Place some parchment paper on a baking sheet
2. In a pitcher mix the buttermilk and baking soda
3. In a large bowl mix flour, oatmeal, sugar and salt. Add the buttermilk and olive oil
4. Mix the dough with a spoon, then knead on a wooden surface with some flour until smooth. Don’t over-work the dough. It’s supposed to look a little shaggy
5. Form a loaf. Dust with some oatmeal flakes. Using a very sharp knife, score the dough. This allows the center to bake.
6. Bake for 40-45 minutes. It is done when you can hear a hollow sound by knocking on the underside. Let it cool on a cooling rack. It is good slightly warm. Enjoy! – Paola