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Irish Soda Bread

Popular throughout Ireland, soda bread is commonly made from flour, buttermilk (or sour milk in the past) and salt and leavened with baking soda, rather than yeast. Here, yogurt has been used in place of the buttermilk and rolled oats have been added for a bit more texture. Cut the bread into slices and serve with a flavored butter, jam or marmalade.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup wheat bran
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 425°F. Place a baking sheet in the oven to preheat.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, oats, bran, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the yogurt and stir to blend, forming a rough ball. The dough will start rising as soon as the baking soda comes in contact with the yogurt, so work quickly to form the dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead gently for about 30 seconds. The dough should feel soft to the touch. Dust a clean work surface with flour and set the ball of dough on it. Flatten slightly into a 7-inch dome and sprinkle with flour, spreading the flour lightly over the surface. Using a sharp knife, cut a shallow X in the loaf from one side to the other. Transfer the loaf to the preheated baking sheet.

Bake until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm. Any leftover bread can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Makes 1 loaf.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Breakfast and Brunch, by Georgeanne Brennan, Elinor Klivans, Jordan Mackay and Charles Pierce (Oxmoor House, 2007).