Soda bread is a classic Irish bread. This simple recipe for soda bread is ready in 30 minutes and is perfect for when you do not have a lot of time, when you have run out of bread or when unexpected guests show up for lunch! Delicious and satisfying, it compliments any meal with its simple elegance.
Soda bread is very easy to make – there is a recipe for it in All You Knead Is Bread – and because I baked some today I thought I would repeat that recipe here. Today, for a little variation, I popped in a handful of the new superfood, chia seeds and you can put in any seeds that you like – or none at all.
The keys to making delicious soda bread are simple:
1. Use a full fat “sour milk” product rather than just plain milk. The acidity of the sour milk product reacts chemically with the alkalai of the bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) and helps the bread rise better, making it lighter. The sour milk product also adds flavour. You can use plain old milk that has gone off or you can use buttermilk, pouring yoghurt or keffir. If you use regular yoghurt, mix it half and half with milk because it is usually a wee bit too thick on its own.
2. Don’t knead your soda bread. Just get all of the ingredients together in the bowl and when you shape them into a ball do it as swiftly and lightly as possible.
3. When you stick to your dough, do not add more flour. Keep a bowl of water handy to dip your hands into if you find the dough is too sticky to handle. Likewise, when you cut the cross in your dough, dip the knife or the scraper in the water so it glides through the dough rather than sticking to it.
Before you begin to mix the dough together, turn the oven on to 230 degrees centigrade.
650 grams of whole wheat or whole spelt flour
600 grams of a “sour milk product” (see point 1 above)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 handful of extras as you like such as seeds, raisins, nuts, raisins, chocolate bits, grated orange or lemon peel, etc.
Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl to distribute the salt, bicarb and added extras evenly in the flour.
Make a well in the flour and pour in the sour milk product.
Using a spoon or a plastic scraper (or both) mix the ingredients together. At first the mixture seems dry but you will see as you mix that it is really quite sticky. You will have to get your hands into the dough to get all the flour incorporated.
Turn the dough out on the counter (no more flour!) and gently knead it to make sure it’s all well blended and then shape it into a ball.
Place the ball on a baking tray that you have lined with non stick baking paper and, with a wet hand (so you don’t stick) flatten the ball into a disc about 1.5 inches thick.
Using a wet knife or a wet scraper, cut a deep cross in the dough and gently open the cuts up a wee bit.
Put the dough immediately into the pre heated oven and let it bake for 10 minutes. Turn the oven down to 200 degrees and bake it for a further 15-20 minutes. You don’t want it dry but you do want it cooked so give it a little prod where the cuts separate the four quarters. If it is still squashy and clearly unbaked put it back for another 3-4 minutes.
Let it cool completely and then eat it with lashings of butter, cheese, jam, or whatever you fancy!
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