A quick, yeast-free bread.
4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, diced, plus more for serving
2 1/4 cup buttermilk
Step 1: Preheat oven to 400°F.
Step 2: Lightly dust a baking sheet with flour. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Using your fingertips, rub the butter pieces into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal.
Step 3: Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture, pour in the buttermilk and work it into the dough with your hands just until it is incorporated. Do not overmix the dough.
Step 4: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a round loaf about 8" in diameter. Place it on the baking sheet and, using a sharp knife, cut a cross into its top 1/2" deep.
Step 5: Bake for 1 hour, until well browned. Transfer the bread to a wire rack and let it rest for at least 20 minutes before serving with lots of butter.
You can use milk that has been left outside to sour instead of buttermilk. It is very important not to overmix the dough or the bread will be very tough. Most households in Ireland have their own recipe for quick breads passed down through the generations — yeast would have been too expensive for people in the countryside in the time of the British occupation. These breads are good for a couple of days stored in a bread bin but are best eaten fresh. They do not freeze well.
See more recipes from My Irish Table (2014, Ten Speed Press).
Reprinted with permission from My Irish Table by Cathal Armstrong and David Hagedorn (2014, Ten Speed Press).