In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.
Slowly pour in buttermilk with the dry ingredients, mixing constantly with a whisk or spatula. Dough may become very sticky; this is okay.
Once buttermilk is incorporated, transfer dough to a floured surface. Generously flour your hands and knead the dough a few times until it has a smooth, round shape, but be careful: how much you knead the dough at this stage will impact the density of the bread. Less kneading will give a lighter, more airy bread; kneading more will create a dense loaf (like pictured).
Transfer dough ball to prepared baking pan and gently press the dough toward the edges of the pan so that it forms a disk. For decoration, use a sharp knife to cut an X in the top of the dough, making each cut about 1/4 of an inch deep.
Cover baking pan with another round baking pan turned upside down.
Bake soda bread, covered, for 30 minutes, then remove the top baking pan. Bake uncovered for an additional 10 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
Remove soda bread from the oven. Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely. Dust the top of the bread with a small amount of baking soda (optional).
Cut and serve bread immediately.
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