Rosemary Cheddar Soda Bread

I don’t make bread frequently. It’s not that I don’t like bread, I do though I’m not going to lie, mostly as a medium for butter consumption rather than for the sake of eating bread. But sometimes you see something, realize you have all the ingredients for it, and you want it, covered in butter, now.IMG_20160321_172202

That’s what happened when I saw this rosemary cheddar soda bread recipe. The soda breads I’d have in the past have been wonderful, but mostly sweet, rather than savory, so I was intrigued.

Soda bread is a quick bread that uses baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) as the leavening agent, rather than yeast. When baking soda meets and acid (in this case, buttermilk and tartaric acid aka cream of tartar) it produces a gas (carbon dioxide) that helps “rise” the bread. It’s also what helps give it that crumbly texture. I’ve always thought of soda bread as Irish, but as I was reading up, I learned that indigenous American peoples used “potash” also known as potassium carbonate to leaven breads! Soda breads were also a part of cooking in Scotland, Serbia, and Australia. So basically people from a ton of different cultures used the basic carbonate + acid = carbon dioxide to leaven bread for centuries — science is cool.

This bread is not too hard to make, turns out delicious, and freezes well.

1. This recipe makes two loafs, I froze the other loaf after wrapping it well and cutting it into quarters. It will keep for up to 2 – 3 months in the freezer.

2. Use a sharp cheddar for this, because it was shine through in the bread very well.

3. If you don’t have buttermilk (which I never do), replace it with yogurt thinned out with milk/half and half

4. Use your hands to mix this dough — I really don’t love mixing dough with my hands, though I do it all the time…it’s a juxtaposition of wet/dry/texture thing for me, but in this case, it is a really good idea and works well.

Rosemary Cheddar Soda Bread
modified from FoodnessGracious

4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp cream of tartar
4-5 tablespoons chopped rosemary (choose based on how much you want the herby flavor)
4-5 cups sharp cheddar cheese (again depending on how cheesy you want it, I used 5 cups)
1 tbsp cracked black pepper
2 cups buttermilk
1 egg, beaten room temperature
1 tsp salt

Heat oven to 425F. Lay out a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Whisk the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt, pepper, cheddar, and rosemary together. In another bowl mix together the buttermilk and egg. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix together with your hands until it come together. Dump it out onto a floured surface and knead 4-5 times until it comes together as a ball. Divide it into two, place it on your baking sheet, use a serrated knife to make an X on the top of the bread. Pop it in the oven for 35 minutes. Pull it out, let it cool, and serve it with butter.

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