So it looks like the debate continues about Irish Soda Bread. Actually, I really don’t know that you can call it a debate. Maybe a “misunderstanding” about what “real” Irish Soda Bread is. Maybe from the Irish Soda Bread Web Site we can get some information. Here is some information that may help.
If your “soda bread” has raisins, it’s not “soda bread! It’s called “Spotted Dog” or “Railway Cake”! If it contains raisins, eggs, baking powder, sugar or shortening, it’s called “cake”, not “bread.” All are tasty, but not traditional Irish Soda Bread!
Traditional Irish Soda Bread
If one searches the internet using the term “Traditional Irish Soda Bread” about 63,500 sites are listed. 98% of them aren’t even close to being traditional. Google “Irish Soda Bread” and you will find 126,000 sites.
Would “French Bread” (15th century) still be “French Bread” if whiskey, raisins, or other random ingredients were added to the mix? Would Jewish Matzo (unleavened bread) used to remember the passage of the Israelites out of Egypt still be Matzo if we add raisins, butter, sugar, eggs, and even orange zest? So why is traditional “Irish Soda Bread” (19th century) turned into a dessert and labeled “Traditional Irish Soda Bread?” OK, maybe you don’t like the analogy, but you get the point!
So there’s a start on the debate, or maybe the finish. Have a good glass of Belhaven Ale or a Guinness Stout and look at the web site for more detailed information and maybe even a recipe or two. Be sure to look at the White Soda Bread Recipe that is on the site.
But for the time being, the Traditional Irish Soda Bread has “… wheat flour, white flour (do not use self-rising as it already contains baking powder and salt), buttermilk (pour in a bit at a time until the dough is moist), salt, bicarbonate of soda and butter if you want to deviate a bit … The best flour to use is “soft wheat” which is called “pastry flour” or “cake flour” today in the US. If you want to try using Irish flour, may I suggest Odlums.” (www.sodabread.info) Enjoy and thanks Joe Levitch for the reference to this site!!!