Today I baked soda bread, which would have been easy-peasey if it wasn’t for our pixie-sized kitchen. It’s probably the simplest bread recipe I’ve come across but you knead (ha ha… Okay lame I know) a lot of surface space for stretching it out, and unfortunately we lack that here in our little Leigh palace. Anyway, back to the bread… For those who don’t know (and I didn’t until recently) the soda in the name comes from the bicarbonate of soda. I’m a bread-making virgin and I nicked this recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall on Ch4’s River Cottage. (I chose it as opposed to normal bread because I don’t eat yeast.) It’s just three ingredients: bicarb., buttermilk (or live yoghurt) and plain flour. And it’s super quick to prepare, but be warned it’s a messy affair. The dough is extremely sticky so it’s best to use one hand if you can and keep the other free. This being my first time, I went in double-handed and got completely covered in gloop, at one point looking like I’d been attacked by Slimer from Ghostbusters.
But with a sprinkle of flour it seemed to come together okay and I got it in the oven. To be honest cleaning the kitchen down was the hardest part, as the flour and dough had got everywhere. It takes 40-45 minutes in the oven and then you have to wait patiently whilst the top cools and crusts before you can dive it. It looks pretty average and I didn’t do the cross deep enough, but it smells fabulous and I can’t wait to tear some off and top it generously with butter and jam for breakfast yum yum!
If you want to have a go, here’s the recipe. Let me know how you get on!
500g plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground sea salt
Approx 400ml buttermilk of live yoghurt
A splash of milk
Preheat oven to 200 degrees (fan-assisted). 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 buttermilk, stirring as you go. To bring the mixture together, add a tablespoon of milk. (It should form a sticky dough).
Tip it out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly for about a minute to pull it together into a loose ball. 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. Bake in oven for 40-45 minutes, until the loaf sounds hollow when you tap it underneath.
Cool on a wire rack for a crunchy crust, or wrap in a clean tea towel for a softer topping.