Soda Bread

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From the Essential Pépin tv series, Episode 117: Rollin' In Dough

When you’re pressed for time, soda bread is the prefect solution, since this Irish classic requires only a few minutes of work. In fact, if you turn on your oven before starting to combine the ingredients, the bread will be ready to bake by the time the oven reaches the right temperature. No rising is necessary — the dough must be baked immediately in order for the baking powder to work effectively.

Soda bread is conventionally made with buttermilk, but for convenience I achieve the same result with milk, using baking powder instead of the usual baking soda to compensate for the lack of acidity in the milk. If you want to make the classic version, substitute the same amounts of buttermilk and baking soda.

Covering the dough with an inverted stainless steel bowl during the first 30 minutes of baking creates a moist environment in which this heavy bread can rise. Then, after the bowl is removed, the crust of the bread hardens and browns. —Jacques Pépin

Makes 1 round loaf


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon canola oil

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Reserve 1 teaspoon of the flour, and combine the remaining flour with the salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Add the milk and mix gently but quickly with a wooden spatula or spoon until the dough comes together.

Oil a nonstick cookie sheet with the canola oil (or line a regular cookie sheet with parchment and brush with the oil), and place the dough on the sheet. Using a piece of plastic wrap, press and mold the dough to create a round loaf about 7 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick. Sprinkle the reserved teaspoon of flour on top of the loaf. Using a serrated knife, make 2 intersecting 1/4-inch-deep cuts across the top of the loaf to create a cross.

Place a stainless steel bowl upside down over the bread and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the bowl and bake for another 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Using a wide spatula, remove the bread to a rack. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

More Essential Pépin television episode information

Copyright © 2011 by Jacques Pépin. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.