Soda bread is a type of quick bread in which bread
soda (otherwise known as sodium bicarbonate or baking soda) is used for
leavening rather than the more common yeast.
Left: Whole wheat soda bread (known as
wheaten bread in Northern Ireland).
The ingredients of traditional soda bread are flour, bread
soda, salt, and buttermilk. Other ingredients can be added such as raisins, egg
or various forms of nuts.
The buttermilk in the dough contains lactic acid, which reacts with the baking
soda to form tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide. Soda bread can dry out quickly and
is typically good for two to three days; it is best served warm or toasted. In
Ireland, typically the flour is made from soft wheat; so soda bread is best made
with a cake or pastry flour (made from soft wheat), which has lower levels of
gluten than a bread flour.
Various forms of soda bread are popular throughout Ireland. Soda breads are made
using either wholemeal or white flour. In Northern Ireland the wholemeal variety
is known as "wheaten bread" and normally sweetened, while the term "soda bread"
is restricted to the white savoury form normally served fried. The two major
shapes are the loaf and the "griddle cake", or farl in Northern Ireland.
loaf form takes a more rounded shape and has a cross cut in the top to allow the
bread to expand. The griddle cake or farl, is a more flattened type of bread. It
is cooked on a griddle allowing it to take a more flat shape and split into four
Left: Soda bread in farl form. This would
have been connected to the rest of the bread along the straight upper
and right edges to form a circle.