I really want to get into bread baking (remember resolution 4 ?) and am eagerly awaiting my chance to go to a bread course at Loaf Cookery School with some fellow food bloggers and tweeters but until then I was inspired to have a go by one of the many foodie tv programmes I watch.
Over the last 4 weeks we have been shown by Lorraine Pascale, a former model now turned chef and patissier who has worked in some of the top London restaurants, how baking can be simple and quick in her show Baking Made Easy. (If you’ve missed out you can still catch up on BBC iPlayer at the moment).
In the first episode, along with some fabulous looking Blueberry and Lemon MilleFeuille, Lorraine showed us how simple Soda Bread is to make. A bread that requires little kneading and no waiting around for it rise is perfect for those times when you’ve ran out of bread and need to bake some with minimum effort and time.
So this week at 39 weeks pregnant and no energy to battle my way round a supermarket, I decided to give the Soda Bread recipe a whirl.
370g/13oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
130g/4½oz wholemeal flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
40g/1½oz butter, melted
1 tbsp black treacle
300–340ml/11–12fl oz buttermilk. (I only had a 284ml carton so added a dash of milk to make it the right consistency)
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6 and ensure the top shelf in the oven is in position. Place the flours, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large bowl and stir together. Make a large hole in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the melted butter and treacle, plus enough of the buttermilk to make a loose sticky dough.
Tip the dough onto a lightly dusted work surface. The dough will be quite sticky. Knead the dough for one minute, then shape it into a large ball with a taut, smooth top. Place the dough on a baking tray and flatten it a bit. The easiest way to do this is with a rolling pin.
Take a wooden spoon, put some flour over the whole handle, then hold it horizontally over the bread. Put the wooden spoon handle on top of the bread then push it down until you feel the baking tray at the bottom. This mark is the first half of the trademark soda bread cross. Repeat with a line at right angles to this.
Dust with some flour then bake in the oven for 30–40 minutes, or until the bread is brown, has risen nicely and the dough inside where the cross was made is not damp.
I was really pleased with how it turned out and no sooner was it out of the oven than I was slathering a slice with butter and devouring like I was eating for more than two!! I really liked the nutty sweet flavour it had, and whilst the texture was dense the crust was deliciously crunchy.
I then later served it with some homemade Carrot and Ginger soup and the next day I toasted and topped it with some cream cheese and smoked salmon.
Lorraine made it look easy, as so many chefs do on these programmes, but I have to say this time it really was easy and definitely one I will be using again and again.
I am also entering this into English Mum’s Fresh bread Bakeoff, so if you fancy baking some bread pop on over and let the Queen of blogging know.