So, I decided to try my hand at a quick soda bread. These featured in last year's Great British Bake-Off and looked well worth making, though I have had serious reservations about the concept for a long time.
Looking through my recipe collection, I had a couple of soda breads, but they were flavoured and I just wanted a really basic loaf, so I picked up Paul Hollywood's recipe from the BBC website.
As I read through the recipe, my heart sank a little - it calls for buttermilk. Not something I keep in stock. I've tried it once and didn't like it and left it at that. But there is lots on the internet about how one can go about substituting this. The website I found pointed out that the really important thing about buttermilk in recipes is the acidity, so replacing with regular milk requires adding some thing acidic. So here goes.
420 ml semi-skimmed milk
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
250 g plain flour
250 g wholemeal flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
extra flour for dusting
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 °C and line a baking sheet with baking paper.
- Measure up the milk and stir in the vinegar and let stand for a few minutes. It will feel a bit thick, that's as it should be.
- In a large bowl, blend together the two flours and stir in the bicarbonate of soda and salt, making sure to get them all well mixed through.
- Pour in the milk mixture and stir to make a sticky dough.
- Flour the work surface and pour out the dough onto it. Sprinkle some more flour on top and on your hands, then fold the dough a few times to shape it into a ball.
- Sprinkle some flour onto the lined baking sheet and carefully transfer the dough onto it. Flatten the dough, then cut a deep cross into it. Sprinkle with some more flour and bake for about 30 minutes, until the cross opens up and the crust goes golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and transfer the bread to a wire rack and leave to cool.
The whole thing took less than an hour. I took the bread out after precisely 30 minutes and it seemed a bit soft, but it was nearly bedtime, so not much choice. Paul Hollywood recommends eating on the day of baking. Lundulph had it the following day with his soup for lunch and said that it was quite nice, with great shaggy texture, but it felt a bit damp, so I'm guessing I should have baked it for a few more minutes. Possibly a bit more salt too.
I sliced and froze the loaf, it worked really well toasted, in particular with butter and jam.
On the repeat a week or so later, I baked for 40 minutes, which made a difference, but it was also not as fluffy as the first one.