My first introduction to soda bread was when I was 17 and working in a nursing home. The owner was a lovely Irish lady who couldn’t abide waste of any kind. So when the milk didn’t get used and started to turn, she baked soda bread.
When we opened the cafe, idealistically I would have loved to bake our own bread, but there are only so many hours in a day and because soda bread doesn’t need any proving, kneading or yeast, it was the perfect alternative. Although instead of making it with sour milk we used to use buttermilk, due to the fact that we always had plenty in stock.
Last week one of our dear subscribers to ‘Annie on the Rocks’ asked if I’d post the recipe for soda bread. After a moment or two of scratching my head (metaphorically speaking), trying to remember the recipe, it all came flooding back. The only problem being, because I was working from memory I needed to bake and eat some to make sure I’d got it right. (See what lengths I go to for you guys, having to bake and eat, warm, fresh, soda bread with lashings of creamy butter!) The other thing was the fact that I’d no chance of getting buttermilk where I live, but making milk sour (which makes a good substitute for buttermilk) is easily enough done; you just add some lemon to the milk and hey presto!
Pre-heat the oven 180 fan
1lb plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbs olive oil (optional).
Mix together all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl,
make a well in the centre and start adding the buttermilk a little at a time and bring together with a knife. If it’s still a little dry add a few drops of milk.
Gently bring the dough together with your hands and turn out onto a floured board and lightly kneed.
Pat into a round and place on a baking tray, cut a deep cross on the top and place in the centre of the pre-heated oven. Bake for 30 minutes, then turn the oven down to 160 fan and bake for another 10 minutes or until it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
You can add lots of things to this recipe, olives, sunflower seeds, dried tomatoes, nuts, garlic, basically anything you like.