Don’t worry, there is also a recipe included which has oven directions!
Traditionally soda bread was made in a bastible pot outdoors buried in hot embers, but those pots are hard to come by these days, and many areas prohibit one from digging a hole in the ground and building a wood fire.
If digging such a fire pit is allowed, however, you can get a cast iron Dutch oven or camping pot (needs wire metal handle and iron lid; no plastic or other melt-able parts!) which works just as well as a bastible pot for outdoor wood ember (fire pit) baking. Just make sure the lid is snug fitting and not going to let in much if any ash.
Included below are a couple of really great links to learn more about Irish soda bread including one with an outdoor charcoal briquettes baking version — as well as the one with the oven baked version of soda bread. The Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Breads website has other traditional Irish soda bread recipes also that can be oven baked.
What I remember, however, is a pit that was dug into the ground (so no worries about wind and no turning of the pot required) and a wood fire with the pot buried under the red hot wood embers with more shoveled over top it so buried with just the handle left sticking out — a homemade squared wicket like wrack with wire legs pushed into the ground on either side of the pit and shoved down to correct height needed with a homemade wire clothes hanger hook to hold and keep the handle upright — using this recipe:
Great-Great Gran’s Soda Bread
(Updated to include actual measurements)
2-1/2 cups wheat flour
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups buttermilk (it was actually churned buttermilk — left over from fresh churned butter — but store bought cultured buttermilk works fine)
1 tsp salt
1-1/4 to 1-1/2 tsp baking soda
Sift dry ingredients together. Form a well to pour buttermilk into and hand mix. Add a bit more buttermilk if too dry and a bit more flour if too sticky. Form into a ball then flatten a bit (into a disc or burger bun shape). Cut the dough. Put into greased pot, bury, and bake.
After it was ember baked for about a half hour (28 to 35 minutes) it was rubbed down in fresh unsalted butter and wrapped up in a wet (but well wrung out) towel. You ate most of it that day and the next day any left over was fried up in bacon grease on the stove top in an iron skillet and finished off at breakfast. If still some left over then it went into a bowl of hot homemade broth for lunch. Sometimes that was lunch and sometimes it was a side dish.
The same ember pit just used to bake bread was then used to clean all of the cast iron pots, pans, and skillets that needed it. They’d just be left there until the embers died. It would burn off any build up and then they were just wiped off with an old (but clean) towel to remove the remaining ash and the now easily flaking crusty build up. Afterwards, they’d be rubbed down inside and out with lard (and eventually Crisco shortening when it started being made) — like rubbing down a saddle with saddle soap — and then with a clean dry cloth rubbed until all was gone except a shiny sheen that it left behind. If it was still too slippery to handle then you hadn’t rubbed it enough.
For more traditional Irish soda bread recipes and oven baking tips:
The Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Breads
4 cups (16 oz) of all purpose flour.
1 Teaspoon baking soda
1 Teaspoon salt
14 oz of buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 425 F. degrees. Lightly crease and flour a cake pan.
In a large bowl sieve and combine all the dry ingredients.
Add the buttermilk to form a sticky dough. Place on floured surface and lightly knead. Do NOT over work the dough!
Shape into a round flat shape in a round cake pan and cut a cross in the top of the dough.
Cover the pan with another pan and bake for 30 minutes (this simulates the bastible pot). Remove cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
The bottom of the bread will have a hollow sound when tapped so show it is done.
Cover the bread in a tea towel and lightly sprinkle water on the cloth to keep the bread moist.
For additional recipe and outdoor baking with charcoal briquettes, see also:
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