Once upon a time, soda bread was baked over hot coals in a covered skillet, trapping steam from the dough to produce a wonderfully crusty loaf of bread—a setup anyone can re-create in a Dutch oven. Teamed up with low-protein all-purpose flour and volatile baking soda, buttermilk hits the sweet spot of gluten and carbon dioxide formation, creating a moist and fluffy loaf of soda bread that’s chewy and crusty all at once.
Irish Soda Bread
- 15 ounces all-purpose flour, such as Gold Medal (3 cups
- 1 3/4 teaspoons (7g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt (for table salt, use the same weight or half as much by volume)
- 1 1/8 teaspoons (6g) baking soda (see note above)
- 18 ounces lowfat cultured buttermilk, well shaken (2 1/4 cups
- 10-inch cast iron or enameled Dutch oven, wire rack
- Step 1 Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 450°F at least 15 minutes in advance. Roughly cover the bottom of a deep 10-inch cast iron or enameled Dutch oven with a sheet of parchment paper.
- Step 2 Combine flour, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl and whisk a full minute to combine. Stir in buttermilk with a wooden spoon or stiff rubber spatula until dough is fully moistened and no pockets of flour remain. For extra-fluffy results, stop folding as soon as dough comes together. For extra-chewy results, fold dough about 20 seconds more. Scrape sticky dough into prepared Dutch oven and smooth with a spatula into a rough boule-like shape. Score deeply into quarters with a sharp knife or razor, cleaning the blade between each slice.
- Step 3 Cover and bake until well risen and golden, 45 minutes. Remove lid and continue baking until chestnut brown, with an internal temperature of 210°F, 12 to 15 minutes longer. Invert onto a wire rack, discard parchment, turn right side up, and cool until crumb has set, about 30 minutes. Cut thick slices to accompany hearty soups and stews, or slice thinly for sandwiches. (This will be easier if allowed to cool 2 hours more.) Store up to 24 hours in an airtight container and toast to freshen bread before serving.