Yesterday we went to Galloway, to Mum and Dad’s. We had a lovely lunch (as ever) and pootled about a bit in the garden, had a cup of tea and then came back again, via Kilnford Farm Shop just outside Dumfries which I’ve been meaning to visit for ages. It’s a lovely shop, with a large range of interesting local products a nice deli counter and the most superb butchers, with a great selection of meats with the lowest carbon footprint you can imagine. And, it’s not just nostalgia, but I do love Galloway Beef. And I liked that fact that there was a blackboard at the front door telling us that there was a Beltie Galloway calf in the field next door if we wanted to go see what our meat used to be. It didn’t say the bit about the meat, but the message is pretty clear to me, and I like that.
Anyway, I managed to come away having purchased only sensible things: some new potatoes, a couple of plain beefburgers, a couple of tomato and olive beefburgers and a peri peri chicken breast fillet. Oh, and some olives. And now, 30 hours later, we’ve eaten the lot. Nom nom nom.
However, all of this is just a digression. The main reason for mentioning I was at home in Galloway at all is to say that my brother was there, and he’d contributed his homemade spelt bread to the lunch. So, we got talking about making bread: bread machine bread, hand-made bread, sourdough bread and SODA BREAD. Mum has a great soda bread recipe from her big sister who lives in Ireland. It involves measuring things in saucers.
But I didn’t get her recipe from Mum yesterday. I just forgot really.
But when I got home I had an urge to make soda bread. So this morning I looked up Darina Allen’s Forgotten Skills cookery book (oh, it’s just one of the most glorious cook books, ever… and I have a large collection of cookbooks, so this is praise indeed). She, of course, has many soda bread recipes, and I settled for her Beginner’s Brown Soda Bread. It’s scrumptious and quite the easiest thing in the world. Go make some, you’ll be eating it in no time. And then making a second batch to share with friends.
I slightly adapted the recipe, as I didn’t have quite enough buttermilk, so I made up the remaining volume with a mixture of plain yoghurt, milk and lemon juice. I also used slightly more white flour, and less brown.
Beginner’s Brown Soda Bread
- 14oz stone ground wholemeal flour
- 3oz plain white flour
- 1tsp salt
- 1 tsp bicarb of soda
- 1 egg
- 1 TBsp sunflower oil (I used rapeseed)
- 1 tsp honey, or treacle, or soft brown sugar (I used heather honey)
- 3/4 pint buttermilk, or soured milk
- sunflower or sesame seeds (optional)
Prepare a loaf tin 9″ x 5″ x 2″ and preheat oven to 200C / 400F / GM6.
- Put all ingredients into a large bowl, and mix well.
- Whisk the egg, adding to it the oil, honey and buttermilk.
- Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in all the liquid.
- Mix well, adding more buttermilk if necessary – the mixture should be soft and slightly sloppy.
- Pour into the prepared tin, and sprinkle with sunflower seeds if you’re in the mood for them.
- Bake for about an hour or until the bread is nice and crusty and sounds hollow when tapped on its bottom.
- Leave to cool on a wire rack.
This basic brown bread can be pimped up with the addition of a mixture of seeds, such as: 1TBsp each of sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and kibbled wheat. Just add these to the dry ingredients, and a similar mixture should be sprinkled over the top before baking.
So, there you have it. The easiest bread in the world.
But of course now I want to try her White Soda Bread recipe.
White Soda Bread
- 1lb white flour
- 1tsp salt
- 1 tsp bicarb of soda
- 12 – 14fl oz sour milk or buttermilk
Preheat oven to 230C / 450F / GM8
- Sift the dry ingredients into a large wide bowl
- Make a well in the centre
- Pour most of the buttermilk in at once and use your hand to mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary
- The dough should be softish and not too wet and sticky
- When it all comes together, turn it out onto a well floured work surface
- Wash and dry your hands so the dough is easier to handle – while you’re at it, put water in the bowl so it’s easier to wash later
- Tidy up the dough and flip it over gently, then pat it into a round about 1″ deep
- Cut a deep cross in it and then prick it slightly with the tip of a knife in each of the quadrants (according to Irish folklore this lets the fairies out, but it also enables it to cook all the way through better).
- Bake for 15 mins then turn the oven down to 200C / 400F / GM6 for 30 minutes or until cooked.
This same mixture can be cut into scones and cooked for 20 mins. Dip the tops in sesame seeds or cheese before you cook them, or a mixture of seeds and grains.
Or pimp up the original bread recipe by adding chopped herbs, or olives, or sundried tomatoes – about 2 TBsps would be about right. Or 3oz raisins, or 1-2 tsp curry powder, or a couple of TBsps of caraways seeds, or fennel, or really whatever you’re in the mood for. Or have in your cupboard.
So, off you go, and make some bread now, you really have no excuse.