Irish Soda Bread

MAKES: 1 round loaf

TIME: About 45 minutes

Of all quick breads, this classic recipe from Ireland is the most like yeasted bread, with a fine crumb and slightly sour flavor. It’s particularly good made with half white and half whole wheat flour, and things like raisins and caraway seeds are often added to the dough. Like many yeasted breads, it doesn’t keep for much more than a day and is best shortly after baking, but it’s quite good the next day when thinly sliced and toasted.

Butter or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, for the baking pan

About 11/2 cups buttermilk or yogurt, or 11/2 cups milk plus 11/2 tablespoons white vinegar (see Step 2)

4 cups all-purpose flour or 2 cups all-purpose plus 2 cups whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons salt

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat the oven to 375В°F. Use the butter or oil to grease a baking sheet.

If you’re using buttermilk or yogurt, ignore this step. If not, make the soured milk: Warm the milk gently 1 minute in the microwave is sufficient, just enough to take the chill off and add the vinegar. Let it rest while you prepare the other ingredients.

This is an easy enough dough to handle by hand, but it’s even easier in a food processor: Combine all the dry ingredients and process (or stir) to combine. Add enough buttermilk to make a soft but not too sticky dough. Process for 30 seconds in the food processor or knead for about 3 minutes by hand; the dough will be smooth and elastic. Let the dough rest for a few minutes.

Shape the dough into a round loaf. Slash the top with a razor blade (see the illustrations on Shaping Boules). Bake for at least 45 minutes, or until the loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when you thump the bottom (its internal temperature will be about 210В°F). Let cool thoroughly before cutting into slices or wedges.