In this recipe the dough expands by about a third during baking, thanks to the reaction that takes place when combining baking soda with the buttermilk. The preparation time is incredibly fast, you do not have to kneed for too long or comply with boring waiting times while the yeast is working to foam up the dough.
Obviously this unleavened bread is less “honeycomb” like and more full-bodied than this, however, despite the lack of yeast, it is still quite soft. To make this particular version of Soda Bread, I mixed white flour with rye flour. I like to add rye flour whenever I can because it has a lower gluten content than wheat flour and contains a higher proportion of soluble fiber.
I enjoy much more being as honest with you as I would be with a close friend than pretending I am a master chef that knows best. Same applies to my science experiments: I am constantly researching and learning.
So, what have I learned this time? I learned the secret of the Irish Soda Bread. And I am here to share it with you (please thank me later, after you have successfully baked this bread :)).
The dry yeast we normally use when baking bread is only a mixture of sodium bicarbonate and an acid. We can now simulate commercial baking powder by mixing simple acidic substances, such as vinegar, yogurt and buttermilk, with the sodium bicarbonate. Simple as that.
In the past, when sodium bicarbonate was not available, it was common to make raising agents using lye obtained from wood ashes and water. How cool is that! A handful of ashes taken from the fireplace dissolved in a big jug of water would be used instead of yeast or soda. A loaf you can make from wood: this is what I would call a rustic and genuine bread.
I believe in stepwise progress, my friends: maybe soon you’ll see me blogging about extremely natural recipes from a house in the woods (like I saw during my short stay in Norway last year). But in the meantime I want to find happiness in small things, even in a slice of this rye soda bread.
Rye Soda Bread
- 2 cups plain flour
- 2 cups Rye flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- Mix flours, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir.
- Make a well in the center and pour in the buttermilk and mix. You may need to add a little milk if the dough seems too stiff.
- Preheat the oven to 400F/200C/Gas 6.
- Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a couple of minutes.
- Form into a round and place on a lightly floured baking sheet and cut a cross on the top. Bake for about 30 minutes (or a bit more more if needed). Cool on a wire rack at least half an hour before eating the bread.