interestingly, this bread is a recent "invention" of the mid 1800's in ireland where the introduction of baking soda replaced yeast in certain applications such as the now famous "irish soda bread". sorry to disappoint; no memories of, or links to, stonehenge here with this one! it can be made with either buttermilk or soured milk. i imagine a nondairy version can be made with soured soy milk; i haven't as yet tried it.
the bread is adorned with an X and is said to be the sign of the cross and put there to ward off any evil — obviously, a very catholic belief. in actuality, the scoring of the precooked loaf helps with the bloom of the bread when it experiences its oven spring and to designate individual portions.
It shocks some people to learn that Irish Soda Bread hasn't been around for thousands of years. It wasn't until around the 1840's that bicarbonate of soda (Bread soda) as a leavening agent was introduced to Ireland. The basic soda bread is made with flour, baking soda, salt, and soured milk (or buttermilk).
quote from the bookguy.com
from ballina-mayo ireland:
The three-legged iron pot is the origin of the term to make "Pot luck" In country districts it is used for roasting, stewing and for making cakes and bread. In Counties Limerick and Cork it is also called a Bastable oven, and the bread made in it a "Bastable Cake". Glowing turf (peat) sods are put on top when baking or roasting is being done to ensure even heat. The pot can be raised or lowered by a chain, and three short feet enable it to stand at the side of the hearth.according to the article about soda bread by darina allen of the irish kitchen of irish recipes from abroad,
The word bastible seems to be a bastardization of the name Barnstaple, the town in Devon where these iron baking pots were made.i bake mine, as i bake many of my breads, in a clay cooker known as la cloche, (the bell). it heats up first in the oven at a high temperature and then the bread is put inside and the lid replaced. this helps maintain a superhigh heat and the moisture needed to produce a decent loaf. one may try to reproduce this with a le creuset type pot in the hot oven. make sure the pot and lid go in the oven first to ensure they are sufficiently hot when the bread is added. take extreme care when placing the loaf in the pot and the oven.
this, of course, does not mean you can't bake yours conventionally on a baking sheet without one of these implements. the results will be similar and just as good.
today you can even buy everything premixed, just add your liquid and bake!
irish soda bread
makes one smallish loaf
3 c AP flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 c + 2 tbsp buttermilk
preheat oven to 375 F.