Thursday, February 13, 2014

Soda Bread

I made a loaf of soda bread last week, a little uncertain to start with but thrilled to bits with it by the end. I buy a loaf occasionally from Elliots at Borough, but they only make it Saturdays. I have been known to decide I need it beyond all others and set off early with no other thing on the list and return home 90 minutes later, triumphant. Turns out I could have made my own, not just cheaper but faster. It's the faster bit that sticks in my craw. What cheers me up is that it is as good as the one I buy.

Inspiraton for it came from the perfect series in the Guardian, it did indeed sound simple and I needed a little something to go with big bowls of leek and potato soup. The simplicity comes from using  bicarbonate of soda as the raising agent rather than yeast and then having no need to knead or prove. Mix a few bits together, whap it on a baking tray in a vague bread shape, oven for 50 minutes - and you have a proper, picture book style loaf. Apart from yoghurt or buttermilk I had all the ingredients - and they sell yoghurt at the Londis on the corner. In fact they sell pretty much everything in some form or other at the Londis on the corner, though if I go in to buy beer in the evening and the man has been in ahead of me to buy beer then they refuse to let me make my purchase. Delights me every time.

Soda Bread

Don't be tempted to omit the treacle, it adds a complex depth of flavour rather than sweetness

450g coarse wholemeal flour
50g rolled oats
1 teaspoon salt
1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon treacle 
1 tablespoon honey
200g tub of whole milk yoghurt made up to 450ml with milk - or 450ml buttermilk
1 tablespoon melted butter, to finish

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6 and grease a baking sheet.

Put all the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and whisk together to combine. Stir the treacle and honey - they might need warming slightly to make them runny - into the yoghurt or buttermilk and mix well until combined.

Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the yoghurt liquid. Use your hands to very quickly combine everything and you have a soft sticky dough. Plop it onto the baking sheet and pat it into a round shape then cut a deep cross into the top of the dough. Bake for 50 minutes to an hour, keeping an eye on it, until the crust is golden and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath.

Brush with the melted butter to ensure the bread remains moist and doesn't form too hard a crust. Allow to cool before slicing.

I had thought it would only be good fresh on the day but it made great toast for the next couple of days for  breakfast spread liberally with lots of butter and marmalade and a perfect base tucked under a supper of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs.

No comments: