Last night I watched Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall make soda bread on his fabulous tv show “River Cottage Every Day”. I haven’t made it for ages and when I do it is usually to accompany soup.
As we didn’t have any fresh bread for lunch today, it was the perfect opportunity to whip some up to go with our smoked trout and salad.
Typically soda bread contains just flour, soda and buttermilk but I vary mine ever so slightly by adding some baking powder in place of some of the bicarb soda. Perhaps this is cheating, but I like how it turns out. I also often add a mixture of pumpkin, sunflower, linseeds and poppy seeds to my bread, however I was in a hurry today and made it plain…
My version of Soda Bread
1 2/3 cups (250g) wholemeal bread flour
1 2/3 cups (250g) white bread flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
400ml buttermilk (or 200ml milk mixed with 200g yoghurt), plus additional 1/2-1 tablespoon of milk as needed
- Preheat oven to 190°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper (like glad bake) and sprinkle with a little flour
- Sift the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir in the salt. Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk, stirring as you go. If necessary, add the extra milk to bring the mixture together; it should form a soft, sticky dough.
- Tip the dough onto 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. In Hugh’s words – 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.
- Put the round of dough on the prepared baking tray and dust generously with flour. Mark a deep cross in it with a sharp, serrated knife, cutting about half of the way through the loaf. Put it in the preheated oven preheated and bake for about 40 minutes, until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath.
- 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, but if you have some left over the next day, it makes great toast.
For a seedy variation: mix together 2 tablespoons each of pumpkin, sunflower, linseeds and poppy seeds (Hugh suggests to also add 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds). Add all except 1 tablespoon to the flour and mix through well before adding the buttermilk. After cutting the cross in the top of the prepared bread, brush the top of the loaf with a little milk and sprinkle with remaining seeds. Bake as above