Don’t think you have time to make fresh bread for St. Patrick’s Day today? Trust me, you do. Just check out how fast and easy a traditional soda bread is to make. Preheat your oven to 425 half an hour before you begin. When the oven is hot, combine all your dry ingredients in a large bowl (make sure your soda is fresh). Check out how coarse this flour is: look around the edges of the bowl, see those little granules? Those are pieces of barely ground wheat berries. This is serious hippie flour — and perfect for a bread like this.
Whisk everything together.
Then add the buttermilk.
Use a spatula to moisten everything…
…then dive in with your hands.
Work the dough a bit until it comes together into a slightly stick ball (add more buttermilk if need be). There’s nothing to be gained from kneading this bread since it’s being chemically raised like a biscuit. Lots of developed gluten will only make it tough(er).
Transfer the mass to a floured board and pat it down into a disk about 1 1/2″ high.
Score it in a cross shape (this will make it easier to portion out after it’s baked).
Transfer the loaf to a cast iron skillet, or directly to a baking stone…
…and bake for 25 minutes. Turn the heat down to 350 and bake another 15 minutes until the loaf looks like this:
Pretty yes? This is “cake” soda bread. To make “farl”-style soda bread, divid the dough in two, and pat the pieces down to a thickness of about 3/4″. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat and griddle the disks like English muffins until they’re browned on both sides. Split then, butter them and eat them.