After cooking up a storm for the holidays, it takes me quite a while to work up the effort for labor intensive meals again. So in the early months of the year, when I’m really trying to eat healthy, the only thing that keeps me from indulging in a lot of frozen meals is my stockpile of ridiculously easy recipes. And when I say easy, I mean really, really easy: a handful of ingredients, as few dishes as possible and minimal hands-on time. This soda bread is one of those recipes.
If you’ve never tried home bread baking, I don’t blame you. Even relatively straightforward recipes are time consuming and rife with opportunities for error. Say the gluten doesn’t develop, or you knead too much or too little, and five hours later you’re left with a dense or doughy or otherwise sad loaf. Soda bread eliminates all those tricky elements. You don’t have to knead or proof it at all, virtually eliminating the most common of bread baking errors, because all the bread magic here happens when the baking soda meets the buttermilk. All you have to do is stir them together then fold in some tasty extras if you’d like – and that all takes less than ten minutes.
I added some chopped dried fruit to this loaf for something sweet, but it works equally well as a savory bread. Just omit the sugar and add a handful of grated cheese or some chopped nuts for a loaf that looks – and tastes – like you spent all day on it.
Makes 1 loaf
4 cups + 1 Tbsp all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp sugar
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
1 cup dried fruit, roughly chopped
Preheat oven to 375º F.
Roll the dried fruit pieces in 1 Tbsp of flour.
Stir the remaining flour, salt, baking soda and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Pour the buttermilk in and stir until a sticky dough comes together. Make sure all the flour is incorporated.
Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and fold in the fruit with your hands, then shape into a round. Don’t worry that it’s all over your hands – it’s meant to be very sticky!
Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet and cut a deep cross into the top of the dough. This will give you four segments that make the bread easy to pull apart. Dust the top of the loaf with flour and bake about 45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the bottom makes a hollow sound when tapped. Cool completely on a wire rack and enjoy within 1-2 days.
Written and photographed for danibarbe.com by Kayleigh Kosmas