“Easy, quick, tasty bread….anyone can do it”
I love bread, but the anti carb Gestapo tend to steer me away from it. It’s become a rare treat! Still every now and again I reach for this old favourite that I first saw Hugh Fearnely Whittingstall do on one of his River cottage programmes. This soda bread recipe is fail safe, always works and I vary it for good measure. The recipe makes a decent medium loaf which me and the flame can demolish over a weekend.
* 500g plain flour (I sometimes do 250g whole meal, 250g plain)
* 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
* 1 tsp fine sea salt * Approx. 400ml buttermilk or live yoghurt (I just use Greek low fat yoghurt, seems to work!)
* A little milk, if necessary
For a variation, I add various type of seeds to the dry mix. A tsp of fennel gives good flavour, but don’t overdue it. I’ve even added dry herbs which doesn’t seem to upset things.
1. Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir in the salt. Make a well in the centre and pour in the yoghurt, stirring as you go. If necessary, add a tablespoon or two of milk to bring the mixture together; it should form a soft dough, just this side of sticky. It is quite claggy and sticks to your fingers.
2. Tip it out on to a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly for about a minute, just long enough to pull it together into a loose ball but no longer – you need to get it into the oven while the bicarb is still doing its stuff. You’re not looking for the kind of smooth, elastic dough you’d get with a yeast-based bread.
3. Put the round of dough on a lightly floured baking sheet and dust generously with flour. Mark a deep cross in it with a sharp, serrated knife, cutting about two-thirds of the way through the loaf. Put it in an oven preheated to 200oC/gas mark 6 and bake for 40-45 minutes, until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath.
4. Cool on a wire rack if you like a crunchy crust, or wrap in a clean tea towel if you prefer a soft crust. Soda bread is best eaten while still warm, spread with salty butter and/or a dollop of your favourite jam. But if you have some left over the next day, it makes great toast.
Variation: I add seeds to the dry mix. A suggestion is to mix together 2 tablespoons each of sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, poppy and linseeds, plus 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds; set aside. Follow the main recipe but use half white flour and half wholemeal flour. Add all but 1 tablespoon of the seeds to the dry ingredients before proceeding as above. After cutting a cross in the top of the loaf, brush it with a little buttermilk or ordinary milk and sprinkle with the remaining seeds. Bake at 200oC/gas mark 6 for 40–45 minutes.
The original recipe was taken from http://www.rivercottage.net