Down By The Sea Soda Bread

It’s been years (really, it has!) since I gave you a soda bread recipe. It doesn’t mean I’ve stopped baking soda bread, but mostly we’re a sourdough household right now.

Best friend Ria baked herself a loaf recently, so jumping on her soda bread bandwagon, I baked one too. I used the whey from curd cheese making, once again, but the recipe usually calls for buttermilk. This recipe is different from my Up The Mountain Soda Bread as it does not include oats or butter. Try both and see which one you prefer!

Soda Bread Sliced 002

Ingredients to make one loaf (keeps well for about 4 days)

  • 250g plain flour
  • 250 wholemeal or granary flour (I used granary which gives it a slightly sweeter, nuttier taste and a slightly chewy texture)
  • About 400ml of buttermilk or whey (if you don’t have either, squeeze half a tablespoon of lemon juice into milk, stir and leave it to stand for 30 minutes at room temperature and then it will be ready to use)
  • 1 teaspoon of Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

Mix the flours together with the salt and bicarbonate. Gradually stir in the liquid with a wooden spoon or your fingers. You may find you don’t need it all, but you want to end up with a slightly sticky mixture.

Dust your worktop with flour and shape the mix into a round. Try not to knead too much, it just needs to come together.

Place the loaf onto a baking tin lined with greaseproof (or baking) paper. Cut a deep cross into the loaf, almost all the way through. This will allow the heat to penetrate and the alkaline of the bicarbonate and the acid of the buttermilk will work together to make your loaf rise. I’m afraid I’m no great scientist, so apologies if my explanation of the bread magic is somewhat simple!

Dust the loaf with flour, cover with a clean tea towel and leave, if possible, for 30 minutes, You can bake immediately if you choose but this extra 30 minutes really seems to allow the acid and alkaline to start doing their thing so that the loaf is raring to go when it reaches the heat of the oven. Don’t expect it to rise before baking like a regular loaf.

Soda Bread 002

Heat your oven to 200 degrees and when you are ready, bake the loaf for about 30 minutes. It should be browned on the top and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Leave to cool, if you can resist, and enjoy in the same way as a regular bread.

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Up The Mountain Soda Bread

Time to get the butter out of the fridge...

When Big Man and I went to Dublin at the end of last year, one of the things we really enjoyed eating was Soda Bread.  It´s a staple they serve with bowls of fish soup (and lots of other things too), it really filled you up on what was a very wet and windy November weekend.

This morning, bread man let me down, but I didn´t mind too much as I had been looking for a reason to use up the whey (or maybe it´s called something else) which came off the yogurt and cream cheese I had made the day before.

I turned to the BBC Good Food Website for a recipe.  I like this site because people like you and me cook the recipes and then give their feedback about what worked and what didn´t.  They´re usually pretty reliable recipes too, and the first one that popped up had 5 stars, so I thought I´d give it a go.

Ingredients called for were:

250g plain flour

250g whole meal flour

100g oats

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp salt

25g butter

500 ml of buttermilk

I substituted my whey for the buttermilk and found that I only needed about 400ml, so add your liquid gradually – much will depend on the absorbency of your flour.

Heat the oven to 180ºC and flour a flat baking tray. Mix the dry ingredients together and then gradually add the liquid until you have a soft and not too wet dough.

Shape it into a round and put in the baking tray then cut a cross in the top. Supposedly this is to let the fairies out (so sweet) but actually helps rising.  And leaves you with lots of little good spirits flying round your kitchen of course!

All the fairies have been let out...

Bake for about 30-35 minutes until the bottom sounds hollow when tapped then leave to cool on a baking tray.  I confess, I love this smothered in creamy butter (I don´t eat it very often here, so I feel justified) but it´s just as delicious on its own.

When we were in Ireland, we were also told that if you see a lone tree in the middle of a field, it´s very magical, a fairy tree and brings good fortune.  If I stand on my roof terrace and look across to the field next to our house, we have a fairy tree all our own…so here´s a snap of it.  Am surrounded by the little people today it seems!

Away with the fairies today....!