I must admit to not having eaten much soda bread in my life - I think a few times on holiday in Ireland, and, strangely, a few times in Sydney. In Sydney it was always with my friend Aisling, who was on a constant quest for good soda bread to remind her of her Dublin home.
I have been slowly working through the bread chapter of my copy of The Great British Book of Baking and this recipe is in there, so I thought I'd give it a go. It quickly became a firm favourite. It really is one of the easiest recipes I have ever come across and takes no time at all (no yeast and no kneading like 'normal' bread!), and is UTTERLY delicious. You do need to get hold of wheat germ and wheat bran, neither of which were in my local Sainsbury's or Tesco, but find yourself a good health food shop and you'll be sorted in no time.
Mix 200g wholemeal plain flour with 200g white plain flour. Mix in 25g wheat germ, 25g wheat bran, teaspoon of salt, 1.5 teaspoons of bicarb. Add 350ml buttermilk and mix in with your hands to make a soft, sticky, rough-looking dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and shape into a ball. Set on non-stick baking tray, gently flatten to 4cm high, score the dough with a cross and dust with flour. Bake for about 35 mins, until it's golden brown and sounds hollow when you tap the bottom.
See? Easy. I'd really recommend this whole book too, if you are newish to baking or want to expand your repertoire. The recipes are super-easy and it has all the greats, from Bakewell Tart to pork pie, treacle tart to hot cross buns, challah to focaccia and everything in between. Also the best Death by Chocolate EVER.