This inviting bread is made in about an hour. There is no yeast and no required time to proof as needed for yeast breads. Soda bread uses baking soda as the leavening agent, much like any other quick bread. The end result looks and tastes similar to a yeast bread, but more sturdy. Soda breads have a golden brown exterior and are more similar to a biscuit or scone.
Traditionally, Irish soda bread is served as a savory along side a hardy stew or a heaping plate of breakfast foods. I like to eat it as a snack with either plenty of salted butter or cheddar cheese.
Irish Soda Bread
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large egg
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons rolled oats
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a sheet tray by lining it with parchment paper. Set aside.
Combine the flours, salt and baking soda into a large mixing bowl. Add in the 1/2-inch pieces of butter, using your fingertips to rub into the flour until it is evenly distributed with the flour mixture.
In a separate smaller bowl, combine the egg and the buttermilk, whisking it together to combine. Pour most of this into the flour mixture, leaving about 2-3 tablespoons behind. Using a wooden spoon or your hands, combine the liquid with the flour to make a dough. If the dough seems a bit too dry, add in 1 or 2 additional tablespoons of the buttermilk/egg mix, leaving 1 tablespoon to glaze the formed loaf of bread. Transfer the dough onto a floured work surface. Using your hands, form the dough into an 8-inch round disk, about 1 1/2 inches thick. Using a large knife, score the bread with a deep cross, as if you were cutting it into 4 quarters. You will cut almost through the bread when cutting the deep cross. Using the last tablespoon of the buttermilk/egg mixture, brush this over the entire surface of the bread. This will create the golden brown crust during baking. Sprinkle the rolled oats over the top of the bread.
Transfer the formed loaf of bread to the sheet tray lined with parchment paper. Bake the bread in the hot oven at 425 for 15 minutes. Then turn the oven temperature down to 400 degrees to finish the baking time, about 25 minutes more. The bread should be golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Remove the sheet tray from the oven. Place the bread onto a wire rack to cool.
Serve warm with plenty of salted butter.