Soda Bread anyone?

Generally I’m more comfortable baking cakes and biscuits and have been learning the joys of freezing cut biscuit dough. As much as I like baking it can sometimes the preparation can be time consuming and when I’ve been at work and then have the craving to have a few biscuits, take a few out of the freezer and in about 15 minutes maybe 20 at a push I have fresh biscuits ready to go with my tea!

Enough about the cakes and frozen biscuits, the one area I dabble in and generally fail miserably is baking bread from scratch. I’ve used shop bough ready mixed bread where I just add water in the past, I’ve even tried focaccia bread from scratch with varying degrees of success and failure. So I thought I would try something a bit simple and opted for soda bread, no yeast involved, thought what could go wrong? My first attempt went wrong!

The dough was a wet, sticky mess …

Soda Bread_AllrecipesI found a recipe on Allrecipes that looked straightforward, I didn’t have any buttermilk but the recipe used the homemade version of buttermilk; milk with vinegar. I halved the recipe just in case it all went horrible wrong, which it did. The dough was a wet, sticky mess to which I kept adding flour that should have made the situation better, it didn’t. The dough became a bit tough and even though I was trying to find the silver lining in the moment and though the dough still had the chance to develop into a great looking and tasting soda bread, the oven would be the cocoon to make this all happen. Alas no this did not happen, the bread shouldn’t have taken long to bake yet the outcome was a lovely looking bread on the outside and a doughy substance on the inside. I couldn’t subject the daring foxes in the area that like to roam the streets, the only place for this lump that would offend bread bakers everywhere was the bin.

Was I beaten by this failed bake?

Soda Bread_James MartinI was for a short period of time, until I bought a pot of buttermilk then with the aid of BBC Good Food website and a recipe by James Martin (also see below) my bread baking fighting spirit was back in action. The ratios worked, the dough looked how I think it was meant to, onto the actual baking. Though there are many steps in bread making that I fall down on the actual baking and listening for the hollow sound does confuse me a bit but I went with it. The bread itself did catch a bit more colour than I would have liked, if I was comparing it to a colour chart I think it would have been the colour swatch that is just before burnt! The response from critics; brother and sister was the bread was a bit chewy, could have done with a few minutes in the oven which could explain why it tasted ok toasted and with butter, extra cooking under the grill. The main thing to take away from this attempt was it was edible.

Ignoring my limited bread making skills this bread is actually very simple and take no time to make. Give it a try and come and share your bread conquests on here or head on over to my Twitter share your thoughts.

Ingredients

170g/6oz self-raising wholemeal flour
170g/6oz plain flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
290ml/½ pint buttermilk

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 400F/200C/Gas 6.

2. Tip the flours, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir.

3. Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk, mixing quickly with a large fork to form a soft dough. (Depending upon the absorbency of the flour, you may need to add a little milk if the dough seems too stiff but it should not be too wet or sticky.)

4. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly.

5. Form into a round and flatten the dough slightly before placing on a lightly floured baking sheet.

6. Cut a cross on the top and bake for about 30 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.

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