What I love most about Ireland (next to the lovely people and the fantastic nature off course!) is the soda bread. The use of bicarbonate of soda rather than yeast gives it a wonderful flavour and the fact that it doesn’t have to rise makes it deliciously firm and chewy. Which means it’s really quick to whisk together when ever you feel like it.
I had loads of soda bread while living on The Emerald Isle. Favourite ones being in a bed & breakfast in Wexford where the owner served it to us warm with a variety of home-made marmalade. And in Howth, North of Dublin, where you can as pub grub get this amazing seafood platter served with soda bread and real butter. And in Kilkenny where I had a delicious, hearty mushroom soup with slices of soda bread on the side (or was it the other way around?). Oh, I probably could just go on and on…!
I made a loaf this morning and we had it for both breakfast and lunch with raspberry jam and salty goats cheese, which I bought at this amazing Sunday market in Brussels last weekend (at the market you could also have oysters with a glass of champagne. Before noon. We settled for some sparkling rosé and a goodie bag to bring with us home. Don’t you just love things like that?!).

Makes 1 loaf

250 g white flour
250 g whole-wheat flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
350 ml buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
Add the whole-wheat flours, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl.
Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk. With a wooden spoon, gradually stir the flour into the buttermilk to form a soft dough. Bring the dough together with your hands, then turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead lightly and briefly until it forms a smooth ball.
Cover a baking sheet with baking paper. Put the ball on the sheet and flatten it slightly to make a round loaf about 19 cm in diameter. Using a sharp knife, cut a deep cross in the top of the loaf.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until well risen and browned, and the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the base. If it sounds moist and heavy, bake for a further 3–5 minutes and then test it again.
Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.