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Soda bread

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Soda bread (Irish: arán sóide) are a variety of quick bread traditionally used in a variety of cuisines in which bread soda (otherwise known as sodium bicarbonate or baking soda) is used as a raising agent rather than the more common yeast. The ingredients of traditional soda bread are flour, bread soda, salt, and buttermilk. Other ingredients can be added such as raisins, egg or various nuts.

The buttermilk in the dough contains lactic acid, which reacts with the baking soda to form tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide. In Ireland, the flour is typically made from soft wheat; so soda bread is best made with a cake or pastry flour (made from soft wheat), which has lower levels of gluten than a bread flour. In some recipes, the buttermilk is replaced by live yoghurt or even stout, but such changes are sometimes frowned upon by purists. Bakers recommend the minimum amount of mixing of the ingredients before baking - the dough should not be kneaded.

Various forms of soda bread are popular throughout Ireland. Soda breads are made using either wholemeal or white flour. In Ulster the wholemeal variety is usually known as wheaten bread and normally sweetened, while the term "soda bread" is restricted to the white savoury form. In more southern parts of Ireland the wholemeal variety is usually known as brown soda and is almost identical to the Ulster wheaten (with a very slight difference).

The two major shapes are the loaf and the "griddle cake", "griddle bread", or farl in Ulster. The loaf form takes a more rounded shape and has a cross cut in the top to allow the bread to expand. The griddle cake or farl, is a more flattened type of bread. It is cooked on a griddle allowing it to take a more flat shape and split into four sections.

Damper is a traditional Australian soda bread most likely brought to Australia by Irish immigrants.

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