Having found myself a step closer to that elusive work/life balance, I’ve been enjoying mastering the art of making Soda Bread. It’s incredibly easy, very quick (50 minutes from start to finish) and absolutely delicious. A couple of people have asked me which recipe I use. I’ve been using Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipe from his Everyday TV series, but with some helpful pointers from MADE‘s resident Soda Bread Expert (Jo Maguire) I’ve been tweaking and experimenting with some additional ingredients.
There hasn’t been a vast difference between the levels of success I’ve achieved, after all, it’s difficult to go wrong with soda bread, but here are some pointers anyway. The dough takes around 5 minutes to make (less depending on whether you can remember where you put the scales), requires no proving and is most successful when handled as little as possible – a very rough mix produces a much more authentic-looking loaf of bread. I’ve been using a wide shallow cast iron casserole dish on which to cook it. The even heat distribution gives it a lovely crust along the base (no oil needed – just flour the dish/tray).
Attempt number 1: made using a mixture of Buttermilk and yoghurt and followed the recipe exactly. It was delicious if a little salty. Realised I could afford to make the shape of the loaf a little flatter. Felt very sleepy after eating some – not sure if this is a good sign.
Attempt number 2: less salt and flattened out a little more before putting in the oven. Used only buttermilk this time and made sure it was room temperature rather than straight from the fridge – this seemed to help make a more aerated loaf. Small yellow patches appeared in the loaf – Jo tells me this is the result of too much soda and possibly because I didn’t sieve it into the mix. Crust held well but loaf seemed cake-like and stodgy after a few hours (which is most likely because I cut into it whilst it was still hot according to Jo). Felt less sleepy after eating some of this one.
Attempt number 3: Jo’s top tip was to add a teaspoon of honey to help lighten the loaf – not sure if this helped because I used a mixture of buttermilk and yoghurt again (both straight from the fridge) which make have counteracted the effect of the honey. This time I used half white, half wholemeal flour and added a tablespoon of linseeds. Used 1 and a half teaspoons of soda rather than 2 which helped balance the flavour of the loaf (previous attempts tasted very soda-ey in comparison). End result was much more like the shop-bought soda bread I like so much. Most successful so far and will use this variation from now on. Produced no drowsiness. Might also benefit from a little more honey and a mixture of other seeds (pumpkin and sunflower would be nice).