Soda bread (ready to eat in less than one hour)
9 oz whole meal flour (you can use white or spelt if that is all you have - don't worry about it!)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons of brown sugar
8 fluid ounces of sour milk , or buttermilk or 1/2 plain yoghurt + 1/2 whole milk (in all cases, full fat is best)
1. Heat the oven to 230 degrees centigrade before you even start to put the mixture together. By the time you are finished mixing your oven will be warm.
2. Mix the ingredients altogether and give the dough a good squash around with your hands as it is difficult to stir with a spoon. The dough is very wet and this is a good thing as it makes much better bread.
3. Either spoon the dough in a well greased loaf tin - about 3/4 full - or, with very wet hands, shape the dough into a round blob, put it on a baking sheet that you have lined with baking parchment and pat it into a disc. If you are baking in a tin, use a wet knife and cut a deep channel all the way down the length of the loaf. If you are baking as a blob, using a wet knife, cut an X into it at least a couple of inches deep - in fact, nearly to the bottom.
4. Put the tin/tray in the oven at 230 for 10 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 200 degrees and continue to bake for a further 15 minutes. Take it out and give it a tap on the bottom. If it sounds hollow it is done. If it sounds like a dull, doughy thud, put it back in for another 5 minutes.
5. Soda bread does not keep so be prepared to eat it all at once. This is not hard!
Variations: Add raisins for a fruity loaf. Add grated cheddar or crumbled stilton for a cheesy loaf. Add some mixed seeds for a seedy loaf. Use white flour, spelt flour, kamut flour or a mixture of flour for interesting variations!