One of the products in my Irish-themed Kitchen Trotter box last month was a box of Irish Soda Bread mix. Now this is a total cop out so if you've come here looking for a recipe to make it from scratch, I suggest you have a look at the BBC Good Food recipe or the Society for the Preservation of Soda Bread recipe who point out that all you need is flour, salt, baking soda and buttermilk - anything else makes it a teacake apparently.
On to my pet niggle - excess packaging. The bag is a third of the size of the outer box so why not just create a smaller box?
The contents look appealing though - a mixture of flour and fine oats.
Now the instructions on the box caused a bit of a headache because they tell you to add buttermilk or, if you haven't got buttermilk, fresh milk with a squeeze of lemon juice. The problem is, in France it's all UHT milk so even adding lemon juice doesn't do anything to it. The packaging also said that the mix is free from salt and sugar, but you can add your own, if you prefer. I had no idea so I added a teaspoon of sugar and a sprinkle of salt, to be on the safe side.
Mix in the milk then pour into a greased loaf tin and sprinkle with some extra oats. Traditionally, you should pull a knife down along the centre apparently, but I had no idea why.
Twenty five minutes later, it was looking good and that line down the middle made perfect sense because it splits the bread, revealing the soft centre beneath the crust. In other words, it looks like real bread that you'd buy fresh at the baker's.
When I tipped it out of the tin, I was disappointed because it looked quite flat. Looking online, all soda bread seems to be quite flat though so I think it was supposed to be like that.
It has a beautiful soft texture and almost the whole loaf disappeared in minutes. It's a beautiful thing when spread with salted butter while still warm, but also goes well with ham, cheese or smoked salmon. I'll definitely be experimenting with the from-scratch recipes.
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