At its core, survival depends upon efficient, simple and effective methods for dealing with the necessities of daily life. Food is no exception. Although you can store yeast (for finite periods of time), make yeast from a starter and even cultivate new yeast, there are times when making yeast bread is too time consuming or altogether impractical. Enter the quintessential survival bread - Irish Soda Bread. This bread requires nothing but the most basic of pantry essentials - flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, sugar and buttermilk (easily made with powdered milk and a splash of lemon juice or vinegar), making it tremendously practical as well as delicious. One of its strongest attributes is that it requires absolutely no fat in the form of butter, shortening, lard or oil! How's that for survivability?
Soda bread is really nothing but a glorified biscuit in bread form, however, being in bread form renders it infinitely flexible. It is extraordinarily quick, requiring almost no kneading, rolling or even cutting into shapes. It bakes in cast iron, so no special cookware is required and it lends itself to wood cook stove cooking admirably. Because Soda bread requires no yeast, it is the perfect starting point for the inexperienced cook and the experienced baker will appreciate its no-fuss approach to bread-making. It is also the perfect answer to hearty bread in minutes rather than hours. Soda bread is equally comfortable sopping up gravy drippings as it is being smothered in jam or honey. Basically, soda bread is one versatile bread.
This bread is really good warm, however, once cold, you can slice it thinly and make sandwiches with ease. Grilled Cheese on Soda bread is the perfect rainy Sunday afternoon repast, especially if you add a hot cup of tea!
In survival situations, sometimes the right answer is the quick answer. And that is where Irish Soda Bread comes into its own....
Irish Soda Bread
4 C flour (white, wheat or a combination)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 T sugar
2 C buttermilk (preferably room temperature)
Preheat oven to 375°
Sift (or not) the flour, soda, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add sugar. Stir with a fork. Add buttermilk (I use regular milk with a bit (splash) of lemon juice or vinegar added or even powdered milk mixed with warm water and a little vinegar or lemon juice) and stir until it forms a ball. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 2 minutes (do not knead for more than 2 minutes - it will make the bread tough).
Form dough into a ball and place in a well-buttered 8" cast iron skillet (if you don't have cast iron, you can use a cake or pie pan). Press down slightly and cut a cross in the top of the loaf.
Bake at 375° (or a medium/hot wood cook stove oven) for 35-40 minutes. (This bread does not require time to rise).
|In a well-buttered 8" skillet|
|Cross cut on top|
|Just out of the oven|
|Slice any way you like|
And this, my friends, is the Quintessential Survival Bread.