Spotted Dog –  A sweet  Soda Bread

 St. Patrick’s day is  around  the   corner  and  the bakeries  are   selling Irish soda  breads  again .   The  first  time   I made  a  soda  bread  was  around 15  years  back .  I  was  intimidated by yeast  breads  then .  These breads  were  such a  morale  booster .  Though the store  here call it  Irish Soda  Bread  in  reality it is the  lightly sweeter  version  – the Spotted  Dog . I think  the   name  refers  to  the  specks  of   dried  fruit in the  bread .  It is   quick,  rustic  and  I am  sure   you can make  it   in  the dutch oven  on the  stove  top  if  needed .

Breads   leavened with baking  soda  works  well with  low  protein  flours .  These   require   much less  time  and effort . There is  no kneading  to develop gluten or  waiting  for  multiple  rising  of  the   dough  .  One  could  even  start  with  cold ingredients .   Just  mix  everything  together  and  into the  oven  it  goes . Preheat  the  oven to 425°F (220°C)  .  By the  time  the  oven  is  ready the  dough  will be  ready to bake . In short  there  is  no planning  required ,  as  long  as  you have  the ingredients  you  are  good  to go .  Isn’t  that  neat ?
Sift  the  flour  , baking  soda  and  salt  together in a  bowl . Sift  it  2  more  times  to  aerate  properly .  Take  1 teaspoon  flour  and  add  it  to the   dried  fruit  and  toss   well.   Add  the   caraway seeds  and   sugar  to the   flour  and  mix  well   . Add  the  raisins .  Use  a  spoon to  gently toss  the  mix  aerate  it  more . Break  the   egg into a  cup  and  beat  well .  Mix  in the buttermilk  well .
Make a  well  in the  flour   mix  and   slowly pour in the  buttermilk  while  using  a  spatula  to  stir  the  wet  and  dry ingredients  together .Add just  enough  water to moisten almost all the   flour . Use circular  motions  of the  spatula  to bring  the   dough  together .
Turn the  dough out  to a  floured   surface . Use your  hands  to  form  the dough into  a  circular  disc about  2 inches in  height .  Transfer to a cookie  sheet  lined  with parchment  paper  .  Use a  sharp  knife  to mark an X on top .  Brush  with  egg wash (optional). Transfer to  the oven ,  reduce  the  temperature to 400°F (200°C)  and  bake  for 35 to 40 minutes  till done .
 When   done ,  the  crust will be light  brown .  Tap the   bottom  of  the  loaf  and  it   should   sound  hollow.  Cool  for a  few minutes    on the  rack   serve   with a  dollop of  jam / butter .
  • Notes :
  • Reserve  1 Tbsp of  the   beaten egg  . Mix  it   with 1  Tbsp   water  and brush  on top of  the  loaf   right  before  the  loaf  is kept  in the  oven  to   give  it a  nice  sheen .
  • Work with  the   dough  quickly . Keep the  kneading  and  mixing to minimum .
  • Use  chopped  jumbo  raisins or  cranberries  for a  bust  of  color .
  • These  can be  sliced  and  toasted for 15 to 20 minutes in a  200°F(90°C)  oven  to  to make crunchy toasts  (fruity rusk) to  go  with  coffee .

Enjoy !!!

Spotted Dog

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 1 Loaf

Spotted Dog


All Purpose Flour - 31/2 C (unbleached )
Baking Soda - 11/2 Tsp
Salt - 1/2 Tsp
Sugar - 2 Tbsp
Egg - 1
Butter Milk - 1 C
Water - 3/4 C (More or less)
Caraway Seeds - 1 Tsp (optional)
Raisins/currants - 3/4 C


Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).

In a large mixing bowl sift together the flour , baking soda and salt . Sift 2 more times to aerate the flour really well . Add the sugar and stir to uniformly combine .Gently rub the caraway seeds in the palm of your hands and add to the flour mix . Take the dry fruits in a mixing bowl , add 1 tsp flour to it and toss to coat.Add the fruit to the flour and use a spatula in circular motion to mix uniformly .

Break the egg into a small bowl and beat well .Add the butter milk to the egg mixture and stir .

Make a well in the middle of the dry mix and slowly pour the liquids .Use a spatula or wooden spoon to gently stir and combine the wet and dry ingredients with as few strokes as possible .Add the water until almost all the flour is moist and the dough comes together .Flour the work surface and turn the shaggy dough out on it .Flatten the dough using your hands to a circular disc of about 2 " thickness .

Transfer to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper .Mark an X on the top with a sharp knife .Transfer to the oven , reduce the temperature to 400°F (200°C)and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or till done .When done the tops will be lightly brown and the bottom will sound hollow when tapped Cool on the rack for few minutes .

Serve warm or cold ..


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *