Irish soda bread

As much as I enjoy making yeasted bread, sometimes I just don’t have the time to wait three hours for a loaf. This is where I find soda bread comes in as it can be ready in under an hour. I’ve tried a few recipes but never found one I’ve loved and wanted to repeat. That was until this weekend. This recipe will be repeated in my kitchen very soon. The recipe is from this month’s Sainsbury’s magazine and is from Richard Corrigan. I had to adapted the recipe slightly as it was a last minute decision on sunday morning to bake bread for lunch and I had to use what was in the fridge/cupboards. I substituted the treacle/honey for golden syrup and as we had no buttermilk in I used half semi-skimmed milk and half low fat natural yogurt. I love the flavour of the bread and the texture from the seeds, oats and mix of half plain/half wholemeal flour. This makes quiet a big loaf so for just the two of us I will be halving the recipe next time.

Irish soda bread

250g plain flour
10g salt
15g bicarbonate of soda
250g wholemeal flour
150g jumbo oat flakes
1 tbsp clear honey
1 tbsp black treacle
500ml buttermilk
1 tbsp mixed seeds (optional)

  • Heat the oven to 390F/200C (fan 180)/gas mark 6. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment or grease and line a large loaf tin.
  • Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Make a well in the centre, then pour in the honey, treacle and buttermilk, working everything together lightly with your hands until you have a loose, wet dough.
  • With floured hands, shape the dough into a round and lift it onto the lined baking sheet or into the tin. Use a knife to mark a cross in the top (there’s no need to do this if you are using a tin). Scatter with seeds if using.
  • Put into the oven and bake for around 45 minutes, or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the base.
  • Transfer to a wire rack, drape a slightly damp cloth over the top and leave to cool.

Adventures in soda bread

We been eating homemade bread for the best part of 3 years now (started with a bread maker and then when I got a kitchenAid I moved on to using this to knead the dough) and I have found only one downside. The more you bake your own bread, the more you realise just how much better it is than mass produced bread. Yes you can buy good bread from small, artisan bakers but we just don’t have any near us and I’m sure we are not the only ones. There are times though when I’ve been too ill or busy to bake bread and we have bought bread from the supermarket. I plan to try and get ahead and always have some homemade bread in the freezer (all the bread I’ve tried freeze perfectly) but also I want to find a soda bread recipe that I can use when I don’t have time to wait for a yeasted bread to rise. I have to admit that so far I’m not a massive fan of the taste of soda bread but River cottage Bread handbook has several recipes and variations that I plan to experiment with.

So far this year I have made the basic white soda bread with a mixture of milk and water for the liquid element (the book recommends buttermilk, yogurt, milk or water) which was ok but didn’t win me over. I plan to try it with natural yogurt next and buttermilk after that (there is also information included for making your own buttermilk which also provides you with homemade butter, that I may try at some point). I’ll spare you a picture of the basic white soda bread, lets just say it looked rustic. You can find a recipe for white soda bread from River cottage here (although its not the same one as in the bread book), I like the sound of the six seed soda breadthough in the variations at the bottom of the recipe so will have to add that to my list. This morning this recipe appeared in my google reader for oat soda bread from 101 cookbooks which I’m going to have to added to my list of soda bread recipes to try.

We went away visiting family for the weekend and got back late sunday afternoon. With no time to bake yeast bread I tried out a recipe for wholemeal soda bread with honey and walnuts. I was really looking forward to this bread but I was disappointed by the end result. For me the bread was far, far too sweet and it completly over powered the soda bread flavour. I have used honey in bread baking before with delicious results (wheatgerm and honey was delicious but I can’t find my recipe for this, if anyone has one can you please let me know) but only a couple of tablespoons for a 500g loaf. This recipe is availble for walnut and honey soda bread online here if you would like to bake it. I think that I’ll will experiment with much smaller amounts of honey in a wholemeal soda bread with and without walnuts in the near future.