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White (Irish) Soda Bread
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White Soda Bread
From The Ballymaloe Bread Book (Canada, UK), by Tim Allen.

Whoever would have thought that white flour, buttermilk, salt and a little raising agent could produce such a delicious bread? So quick and easy, it's a must for everyone to learn. There is no faster bread. This tasty recipe is the basis for a whole range of flavoured breads and also makes a superb quick base for pizza and focaccia.

Ingredients:

450 g/1 lb plain white flour, preferably unbleached
1 level teaspoon salt
1 level teaspoon bread soda, finely sieved
400 ml/14-fl oz buttermilk, approximately

Instructions:

First, fully preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F/regulo 8.

Sieve the flour, salt and bread soda into a large, wide mixing bowl.

Make a well in the centre. Pour most of the milk into the flour. Using one hand with the fingers open and stiff, mix in a full circle drawing in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be softish, not too wet and sticky.

The trick with all soda breads is not to over-mix the dough. Mix the dough as quickly and as gently as possible, keeping it really light and airy. When the dough all comes together, turn it out onto a well-floured work surface. Wash and dry your hands.

Gently roll the ball of dough around with floury hands for a few seconds, just enough to tidy it up. Then pat it gently into a round, about 5 cm/2 in high.

Place the dough on a lightly floured baking sheet. With a sharp knife cut a deep cross in it, letting the cuts go over the sides of the bread. Then prick the four triangles with your knife: according to Irish folklore this will let the fairies out!

Put this into your preheated oven for 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to 200°C/400°F/regulo 6 for a further 25 minutes, or until cooked. When the bread is cooked it will sound hollow when tapped.

Cooking time: 35 minutes, approximately
Yield: Makes 1 loaf

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