Soda bread, for those who aren’t familiar with it, gets its name from the fact that baking soda is used as the leavening agent instead of yeast. The ingredients of traditional soda bread are flour, bread soda, salt, and buttermilk. The buttermilk in the dough contains lactic acid, which reacts with the baking soda to form tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide. Other ingredients can be added such as butter, egg, raisins or nuts. In Europe, soda breads began to appear in the mid-19th century when bicarbonate of soda first became available for use as a rising agent. Breads, griddle cakes and scones with bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar or tartaric acid became popular in Austria, Polish cuisine and in the British Isles. Traditional soda bread, eaten in Serbian cuisine, also uses bicarbonate of soda, particularly the traditional česnica (Serbian Cyrillic: Чесница), a soda bread made at Christmas.Ingredients:
500g plain flour
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
400ml buttermilk, thin yoghurt or milk
Preheat oven to 200° C.
Combine the sifted flour, bicarb and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk and mix together, adding a little extra milk if need be to form a soft, almost sticky dough.
Tip out onto a floured board and knead for a minute until it just comes together. Form one round of dough (or two smaller ones), place on a baking tray and dust with extra flour. Slice a deep cross with a serrated knife about two-thirds of the way through the loaf. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes (less if you have made two smaller loaves) or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath. Cool on a wire rack.