A Brief History
Soda bread, as we know it now, has generally been around since 1830, but did you know that the practice of chemical leavening has been around earlier? That’s right! Native Americans had been leavening their breads with ash before the process was “discovered” by others. The ashes Natives used contained alkaline salts which, when combined with grains, created small pockets of bubbles, giving the bread it’s distinct texture. When colonists picked up on what the Natives were doing, they were able to recreate it with some modifications of their own which is closer resembles what we see baked today.
The practice of soda bread took off in many colonies, but flourished in Ireland for numerous reasons. Firstly, the country was facing wide spread famine. Secondly, many people did not have ovens to bake. Not only that, the climate in Ireland did not support the growth of hard flour which is rich in gluten and essential for yeast-leavened bread. With the invention of baking powder in 1846, serving as a sub for previously used ashes, the practice of combining the mixture with some sort of acid, like sour milk, allowed for folks to mix with a soft wheat that could be grown in Ireland. The lack of ovens were also no longer an issue since soda bread could be made in an iron pot or in a griddle over an open hearth!
Chemical leavening was a no brainer and many countries adopted this practice, but because of it’s major impact during the great famine in Ireland, it’s assumed that’s why we distinctively call it “Irish” Soda Bread here in America. Soda Bread is made in many areas, both savory and sweet, and there are so many amazing recipes out there whos traditional flavors vary from region to region. Look some up! You’ll definitely find delicious creations.
“Irish Soda Bread“
Unbleached wheat flour, all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, butter, buttermilk
Are you excited for Irish Soda Bread time, too?
Stop by your nearest Avenue Bread café and pick up a loaf for yourself!
Be sure to snap a pic of how you will be enjoying this delicious bread and tag us on Instragram
Thanks for reading 🙂