In Ireland, we don't tend to use the term "soda bread"; simple brown bread is far more common, or "wheaten bread" up north. You'd be hard pressed to order a bowl of soup in any restaurant in the country without a slice or two on the side; a plate of smoked salmon isn't worth having without proper brown bread. This recipe makes a hefty two pound loaf, which doesn't last the day with family over; it's named for my seven year old sister, who knows the old recipe better than anyone. We had Americans stay with us during the summer - they ate a loaf for dinner one night, and another for breakfast the next morning, too! —Clio
- Makes a two pound loaf
Coarse whole-wheat flour
White, self-raising flour
Bicarbonate of soda
Finely ground salt
Thick, Greek style yoghurt - Fage works quite well.
Large, free range egg
Full fat, whole milk
Good quality honey
Butter (for greasing)
- Preheat your oven to 200 C, or 400 F. Grease a large, rectangular loaf pan, preferably 9 x 5 inches or thereabouts, with butter. Set aside.
- With a scales, measure out 300 grams of whole wheat flour into a large mixing bowl. If it's really coarse, give it a go in the blender or food processor to make it softer. Add the 150 grams of self raising flour to the bowl.
- To the same bowl, add a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda and a teaspoon of fine salt. Mix these ingredients together - feel free to use your hands! It's fun!
- In a separate jug, measure out 100 grams of the thickest Greek style yoghurt you can get your hands on - I've used Fage before, with good results. Keeping the scales on, crack an egg into the yoghurt mixture. Add all of the milk, next. Stir 'em together (but don't use your hands for this bit)! You want the total weight of the liquid ingredients to be around 450mls - a little more or less is no bother; if you use a massive egg, you'll use less milk.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry - bring them together with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. As you beat the batter (and it will be a batter, not a dough), add the honey, stirring all the while.
- When there are no dry bits of flour left in the bowl, the mixture will be too wet to knead, and too thick to pour, so help it into the greased loaf tin as quick as you can, toss it into the oven, cross your fingers and hope for the best. Resist the urge to open the oven door. If you so desire, a handful of oats sprinkled over the batter before it cooks gives the bread a lovely rustic look.
- When the bread is finished, it should be hard to the touch on the outside, but with a little give when poked. A knife stuck into it will come out clean, and not gummy. Free the loaf from the tin, place it on a cooling rack, and cover with a tea towel. Let it sit for at least two hours before cutting - if you cut it while it's still warm, you'll end up with delicious crumbs and not much else, and all your hard work will've been for naught.
- Serve with butter and jam, or with fish (not at the same time, though, yuck). Or just eat it however you want, the important thing is that you enjoy it!