Who Let the Fairies Out?

Don’t be fooled by the very intriguing title, this post is a recipe. It’s one of my favorites: Irish Soda Bread.

(Real) Irish Soda Bread rarely comes with raisins or currants. I can’t imagine why people add caraway seeds to it. And if you’re eating Irish Soda Bread and it doesn’t have a hard, crunchy crust and full of nooks and crannies, spit it out. It’s an imposter.

I believe Irish Soda Bread was made for butter. However it would go good with a nice soup or stew too. I mean put peanut butter on it if you want. Jam or marmalade. Eat it plain, I guess, but enjoy the chew and the crunch and the simple flavor.

This recipe comes from a recipe book I got in Ireland in 1990. I’ve made it at least once a year since, usually on St. Patrick’s Day, and even when my husband went gluten free for three years.

The author is Darina Allen and if she doesn’t sound particularly Irish to you, here’s the rest of her bio: she owns the famous Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shanagarry, County Cork, Ireland. There’s some good cred.

My favorite thing about this recipe besides the finished product is the one line in the

Freshly cut cross! 

directions that says, “…and cut a deep cross on it to let the fairies out.” Fairies in Ireland are not necessarily Tinkerbell or the little charming nymph who collects teeth. Fairies can be evil, vicious, and out for blood. You certainly don’t want them running amok in your bread. I mean the carbs alone might kill you.

This recipe has five ingredients. It is simple and lovely and will make your eyes smile!

White Soda Bread

  • 3 1/2 cups ap flour
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp bread soda (baking soda)
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups buttermilk (can use sour milk
Ready for the butter!

Preheat oven to 450 degrees while making loaf. Mix well or sieve the dry ingredients. Make a well in the center. Pour most of the milk in at once. Using one hand, mix the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be softish, not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, turn it out onto a floured board and kned lightly for about a minute, just enough to tidy it up. Pat the dough into a round about 1 1/2 inches deep and cut a deep cross on it to let the fairies out! Let the cuts go over the sides of the bread to make sure of this. Bake in a hot oven, 450 degrees, for 15 minutes. Turn down the oven to 400 for 25-30 minutes. If you are in doubt, tap the bottom of the bread: if it is cooked it will sound hollow.

To make scones: You can also flatten the dough into a round 1 inch deep and cut into scones. Cook for 20 minutes in the 450 degree oven.


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