Add in one small onion, finely diced, for a more savory flair and keep the heat kick going by adding a minced jalapeno or splash of hot sauce to the batter.
I throw an ice cube or two in my hot oven and shut the door for just a second. Then I open the door and very quickly get the bread in and door shut. Steaming bread right when it goes in the oven creates an even better crust. I learned this from my ninth-generation German artisanal bread instructor, Chef Hans, when studying artisanal bread baking.
Perfectly cooked soda bread will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.