Darina Allen’s White Soda Bread
At her gorgeous Ballymaloe Cooking School in County Cork, Ireland, Darina Allen shows her students how to make a loaf of white soda bread with a barebones list of ingredients. The same simple dough can also be used to make plain scones or dressed up with herbs, cheese and thyme leaf, rosemary and olives-the conversion possibilities are endless. Darina recommends that if you are in doubt about whether the bread is done, briefly remove it from the oven and tap it on the bottom. A done loaf will produce a hollow sound.
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- 1 lb. (450 grams/3¼ cups) white unbleached white flour
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- 12-14 fluid oz. sour milk or buttermilk (350-412 ml)
Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Sift the dry ingredients. Make a well in the center and pour most of the milk in at once. Using one hand, mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be moist, but not wet and sticky. When it all comes together, turn it out onto a well-floured surface.
After washing and drying your hands, gather the loaf into a circle and gently flip over. Pat the dough into a round about 1½ inches thick and cut a cross in the top to, as Darina says, “let the fairies out.” Darina recommends letting the cuts go over the edge of the loaf to be sure of this.
Bake at 450ºF for 15 minutes, then turn down the oven to 400ºF for 30 minutes for until the loaf produces a hollow sound when tapped.