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IRISH SODA BREAD CONTEST
Sponsored by Seattle's Irish Heritage Club
dedicated to the preservation of the Traditional way of baking Soda Bread
as it was done in Ireland in the 1800s. 

Explanation of the Ingredients that are Permitted:

Wheat Flour
Only wheat flour is allowed. For best results use an unbleached fresh locally milled flour. Low protein flours are best for soda bread, so use soft wheat flour, pastry flour and flours marked for use in quick breads. Hard flours should be used only for yeast risen breads, so avoid bread flour, flours that are marked "best for bread" and flours made entirely of hard wheat. You can use all purpose flour which is a mix of high (hard) and low (soft) protein flours too.
For whole wheat soda bread you can use any whole wheat flour. For best results use stone ground flour that is locally milled. You can find flours from two local mills in your grocery store: Bob's Red Mill and Stone Buhr.
Do not use self-rising flour - some may contain baking powder.

Sour (Cow's) milk
In Ireland buttermilk was usually used to make soda bread. The buttermilk used by our ancestors was the liquid left after butter was churned. Without refrigeration it soured naturally giving soda bread its characteristic tang and activated the bread soda to raise the loaf. Left over milk that had soured was used too. Today's buttermilk is a cultured milk product made by adding bacterial cultures to milk and allowing it to sour. You can use any cultured (soured) milk product or sour your own milk by adding 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to two cups of low fat milk.

Baking soda (Bread Soda)
The chemical name for baking or bread soda is sodium bicarbonate. When the alkaline sodium bicarbonate comes into contact with the acid from the sour milk, carbon dioxide gas is produced and raises your loaf. This is the cheapest ingredient. So don't skimp and use the box of baking soda in the back of your fridge as old soda can produce too dense a loaf.
Baking Powder is not the same product as baking soda.
Baking Powder is not allowed in an Irish Soda Bread competition.

There are three divisions in our competition:

Traditional Irish Soda Bread
Entries in this division must contain these four ingredients:
Wheat flour (white flour)
Soured milk
Baking Soda (also called bread soda & sodium bicarbonate)
Salt
Do not use self rising flour or baking powder. Bread that contains ingredients other than the four listed above should be entered in the glorified soda bread division.

Traditional Brown Irish Soda Bread
Entries in this division contain these four ingredients:
Whole wheat flour (no white flour allowed)
Soured milk
Baking soda (also called bread soda & sodium bicarbonate)
Salt
Do not use self rising flour or baking powder. Bread that contains ingredients other than the four listed above should be entered in the glorified soda bread division.

Glorified Irish Soda Bread
Entries in this division are based on these ingredients:
Any kind of flour
Any source of acid (necessary to activate the chemical leavener), for example cream of tartar
Any chemical leavener (including baking soda, baking powder, & self-rising flour)
Salt to taste

This glorified soda bread division is where you enter your aunt Mary's traditional soda bread that called for mashed potatoes and currents. Or your mother's traditional soda bread that included wheat bran, caraway seeds, an egg and raisins. Or maybe your own creation that uses soured goat milk, golden raisins soaked in whiskey, white flour and a drop of green food coloring.

HOWEVER, do not "glorify" the bread so much that is becomes a cake! A cake is a sweet dessert made from a batter while bread is a food of leavened flour that is made from a dough. The judges should be able to recognize your entry as a loaf of bread and not a cake. Because this is a soda bread contest, no yeast-risen breads are allowed.

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