In Ireland Baking Bread is a tradition started thousand years ago and in every home bread-making was an important part of daily life.
People used to live in isolated farmhouses and the main bread ingredients they easily could get were wheat flour, soda and buttermilk. Soda and Buttermilk served as raising agents; in addiction the buttermilk was a good preservative.
Soda Bread is the most famous Irish bread and called in Irish language aràn sòide.
This bread is shaped and baked as a round loaf with a cross marked on top. The cross isn't a religious symbol, nor was it to let fairies out, but it allowed people to divide the baked bread into four quarters.
Nowadays the ingredients of traditional soda bread are the same as in the past: flour, soda, salt and buttermilk.
The flour must have a lower levels of gluten because in Ireland the flour is typically made from soft wheat. Buttermilk is important because it contains lactic acid which reacts with soda forming little bubbles of carbon dioxide but more important it gives soda bread a tender crumb for which it is so famous.
Other ingredients can be added such as raisins,eggs, spice or tea as in Barm Brack.