Irish Bannock (Soda Bread)

There is some confusion, in my mind, as to what to call this delicious quick bread. According to Wikipedia, bannock is barely kneaded and it is cooked on a griddle. However, soda bread has a cross in it and it is either baked or cooked on a griddle. Whatever you want to call it, I’ve decided it’s a matter of preference. I found this recipe on allrecipes.com and made it right away. It really was easy.

2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, chilled and diced
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Then grease a cake pan or a baking tray. Measure and prepare ingredients. I used large golden raisins, chopping them into coarse pieces. Instead of buttermilk, I used sour milk. Put 1 tablespoon white vinegar into a glass one-cup measure then top with milk to the one-cup level.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it is the size of small peas. Stir in the milk. Add the chopped raisins and stir until all the flour is just moistened. The dough will be very sticky.

Now, the original recipe said to “turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough for 5 minutes.” I found this impossible to do because the dough was so sticky. I simply skipped this step and scraped the dough into the prepared pan. I used a spatula to pat it into a round shape. Just for interest, I sprinkled some fennel on top. At this point, the dough was too soft and sticky to do anything else, like cut a cross in the top.

Then I popped the pan in the preheated oven. After 15 minutes, I used a sharp thin blade to cut a cross about 1/2 inch deep in the middle of the dough. Then I let it continue baking for 13-15 additional minutes until a tester inserted in the center came out clean.

I let it cool about 5 minutes on a cooling rack, and because I couldn’t wait any longer, I sliced it and ate a piece right away. Bannock/Soda Bread is best eaten on the day it is made. Its texture is so soft; it’s very much like a cake.