Darina Allen prepare this bread on Cooking Live, Sara Moulton's cooking show on the old Food Network and I have been making it ever since. It is a real Irish Soda Bread, not adulterated with lots of additions, that while good, are not the real deal. This is a magical bread that somehow comes out tasting and looking like a yeast bread, but is nothing more than flour, salt, buttermilk, a little baking soda, and a few herbs thrown in...it is magnificent. I have posted this before...but I shall post it again as along with the corned beef and cabbage recipe it is one of the most popular and most hit upon posts on my blog...it does not get much easier than this...lots of bang for your buck! I most always use fresh parsley, thyme and chives...love the flavor of that combination with the Corned Beef and Cabbage Dinner...it is good anytime.
Herbed White Soda Bread
Recipe courtesy Darina Allen
3 1/4 cups unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons freshly chopped herbs, such as rosemary, sage, thyme, chives, and
12 to 14 ounces buttermilk
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a
large bowl, make a well in the center and pour all of the buttermilk in at once. Using 1 hand, stir
in a full circle starting in the center of the bowl working towards the outside of the bowl until
all the flour is incorporated. The dough should be soft but not too wet and sticky. When it all
comes together, a matter of seconds, turn it out onto a well-floured board. WASH AND DRY YOUR HANDS.
Roll dough around gently with floured hands for a second, just enough to tidy it up, flip the dough
over. Pat the dough into a round about 1 1/2-inches deep. Sprinkle a little flour onto the center of
a baking sheet and place the loaf on top of the flour. Cut a deep cross on it with a sharp knife,
prick the four sections to let the fairies out. Let the cuts go over the sides of the bread to make
sure of this.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 400 degrees for 20 minutes, or until
just cooked. If you are in doubt, tap the bottom of the bread: if it is cooked it will sound hollow.
Cool on a wire rack.
4 cups plain white flour
1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
1 level teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda, sieved
3/4 cup raisins, currants, or golden raisins
1 1/4 to 1 1/3 cups sour milk or buttermilk
1 egg, free range is possible (optional - you will not need all of the milk if you use the egg)
First fully preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
Sieve the dry ingredients, add the fruit and mix well. Make a well in the center and pour most of the milk in at once with the egg. Using one hand, mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be softish, not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, turn it out on to a floured board and knead it lightly for a few seconds, just enough to tidy it up. Pat the dough into a round about 1 1/2 inches deep and cut a deep cross on it. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn down the oven to 400 degrees and continue to cook for approximately 30 minutes. If you are in doubt, tap the bottom: if it is cooked, it will sound hollow.
Serve spotted dog freshly baked, cut into thick slices and smeared with butter.