25 October 2011

Soda bread

I know lots of people who love to cook, bake cakes, cupcakes, biscuits, cookies. Only very few bake their own bread, though. Baking bread still seems to have the aura of something complicated, mysterious, I've never really understood why. It's not hard (well, it's a bit hard when you use sourdough, but that's not really the object here), it's not dangerous, it's not expensive. Still people always think that baking your own bread is a huge deal.
This post is here to convince you of the opposite.

The bread I'd like to introduce you to is certainly the most simple bread ever to have walked (or rather have been eaten on) this earth. Soda bread. It only requires four ingredients that are assembled in absolutely no time, and 40 minutes later you can pull the most perfect soft, crispy-crusted, heavenly smelling loaf out of the oven. Who said anything about complicated?

There are countless recipes for Soda bread on the web and they all vary slightly (though they're all equally simple). I stuck with Sophie's recipe and was very, very happy with it, but feel free to try another one and tell me about the result.

Soda bread
(Recipe by Sophie Dahl (2011): From Season to Season - A Year in Recipes. - London: HarperCollins.)
Makes for 1 loaf

400 g/3 cups flour (you can use buckwheat, wholewheat, rye, spelt, it all works. I normally use half wheat and half spelt)
350 ml/1.3 cups buttermilk
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 200° C/390° F
Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Create a small well in the middle, pour in the buttermilk and mix. Don't meddle around with the dough for too long, stop when everything is only just combined.

Dust the dough with flour and form into a ball, then place on a baking tray and cut a deep cross across the top.

Bake for 40 minutes. The bread should make a hollow sound when tapped on the base.

Cut off several slices immediately, spread clotted cream and jam on top and eat.

Store in a paper bag (don't use an airtight container/plastic bag as it would make the bread develop a very strong pretzel-y smell). Consume within a week.

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