Best and Easiest Irish Soda Bread
(courtesy of Dr. Letitia Anderson, cardiologist, chief of staff at Sierra Medical Center in Reno. Makes one 7-inch-diameter loaf)
“Our neighbors in northwestern Ireland told me that this was the best recipe to give to their kids in college” Anderson says. “So true! Pure and simple, and so great with avocado or butter or jam. Easy to freeze and save — before or after baking. And no yeast! So fast and bombproof. Has been the favorite in my family, here and abroad, well … forever!”
2½ cups all-purpose, unbleached flour, divided
2½ cups stoneground whole-wheat flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
1¾ cups buttermilk (can substitute milk with 1 tablespoon of white vinegar)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Sprinkle 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour over the center of a baking sheet and set aside. Put 2 teaspoons of the all-purpose flour into a small bowl and set aside. In large mixing bowl, put remaining all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking soda. Mix well with your hands to combine. Add butter, breaking it into small pieces with your fingers. Blend it into flour mixture until combined. Make a well in the center of the flour-butter mixture and add buttermilk. Slowly incorporate buttermilk into flour mixture with your hands until a rough ball forms, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a neat ball (without kneading).
Transfer dough to center of baking sheet, on the flour, and press gently to form a 7½-inch-wide round. Using a sharp knife, slash a cross ½ inch deep across the entire top of the loaf (according to Irish lore, this lets the fairies out), and dust top of loaf with reserved flour. Bake until bread is lightly golden and a tap on the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow, about 35 minutes. Wrap bread in a clean kitchen towel, prop against a windowsill, and allow to cool for more than 30 minutes — if you can stand to wait that long!