Spotted dog is what the Irish Americans call “Irish Soda Bread.” Irish Soda Bread is a traditional product of a poor country. This was because it was made with only the most basic of ingredients, which included flour, baking soda, soured milk to moisten and activate the soda, and salt. One of my favorite facts is that a cross was traditionally cut on the top with a knife to ward off the devil and protect the household. From the earliest of times in Ireland, bread-making was an integral part of daily life in almost every home.
Made in just about 2 or 3 minutes and baked in only 30-40 minutes, this Irish Soda Bread might just be the easiest bread you will ever make . By the end of culinary school in Ireland, I probably could have made this bread with my eyes closed! This bread is also terrific canvas for experimenting with different variations and uses. Some of my favorite variations are with olives, sun dried tomatoes or caramelized onions.
In honor of St. Patrick day quickly approaching, I thought I would share my Ballymaloe Cookery School recipe with you.
- 450g (3 cups) all purposed flour
- 1 level teaspoon salt
- 1 level teaspoon baking soda
- Buttermilk -12-14fl oz (Add 12oz at first and if the mixture hasn’t come together, add the last 2oz)
First fully preheat your oven to 450ºF
- Add the flour, salt, and baking soda to a large bowl. (Larger the better!) Sift the dry ingredients using a whisk to help make the bread light and airy.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour most of the butter milk in at once (I recommend 12oz at first.) Using one hand, mix into he flour for the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be soft, not too wet and sticky. As soon as the dough comes together, turn it out onto a well floured work surface.
- First, make sure to wash your hands! My routine was to flip the dough over lightly about 4 times to help tidy up the dough. Pat the dough into a round about 1 1/2 inches deep and cut a cross over the top. (the less pressure you use to cut, the easier the knife will move through the dough.)
- Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, then turn down the oven to 400ºF for 30 minutes or until cooked. If you are in doubt, tap the bottom of the bread: if it is cooked it will sound hollow.