On our recent trip through Ireland with our friends from Tourism Ireland and Bake from Scratch magazine, we took a traditional bread making class with Tracey Jeffrey of Tracey’s Farmhouse Kitchen, located in Northern Ireland’s picturesque County Down, less than 1-hour drive from Belfast city. Tracey opens her home and kitchen to visitors to learn and taste, using wholesome, local ingredients, many sourced within five miles of her property. The soda bread is unique to Northern Ireland because the pieces of dough (farls) are cooked on a griddle, instead of shaped into loaves to be baked in an oven.
Tracey’s recipe is perfect for the beginning bread baker. It has just three ingredients: flour, baking soda and buttermilk. The dough is forgiving, so it won’t hurt to add a little more milk or flour to achieve the right consistency, and no kneading or proofing is required.
Tracey’s Griddled Soda Bread
• 2 cups (225 g) all-purpose flour
• 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
• 1 cup (225 ml) cold buttermilk
• Unsalted butter for serving
• Jam for serving
Preheat a griddle to medium-high heat.
Sift the flour and baking soda together into a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk. With a wooden spoon, stir together, being careful not to overwork the mixture; the dough should be sticky, shaggy and somewhat wet. Place the dough on a generously floured board and dust with more flour. Using a light touch with generously floured hands, and without kneading the dough, gently shape it into a round by tucking the edges under, adding a bit of flour at a time if needed to prevent sticking. Using your hands, pat the dough into a round about 3/4 inch (2 cm) thick. Using a chef’s knife, cut the dough into 4 equal farls (quadrants). Using a wide spatula, lift each farl from the surface, shake off any excess flour, and place it on the griddle. (If desired, you can use your knife to gently reshape the farls into wedges at this point.)
Cook until the farls have risen to almost double their original height and the bottoms are golden and make a hollow sound when tapped, about 5-7 minutes. Carefully flip the farls and repeat to cook the second sides. Finally, carefully lift a farl and stand it on one edge on the griddle to cook and seal the edge. Repeat with the remaining 2 edges of the farl, then repeat with the remaining farls.
Transfer the soda bread to a wire rack and let cool slightly. To serve, split it in half with a serrated knife and top with butter or jam. The soda bread will keep for a couple of days at room temperature, or you can freeze it for up to a month. Serves 4.
Recipe by Tracey Jeffery of Tracey’s Farmhouse Kitchen
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