.. my life in cakes.. SODABREAD
" My mother used to bake sodabread. Sometimes it had a very greenish hue. I thought it was cool - turns out, thats because of more bread soda in the recipe than the quantity of flour required. Who knew about the science!
After I married Paul; as a good farmers wife I baked bread all the time and as the legions of Irish wives before me - developed my signature sodabread. He used to call them BROWN CAKES, as his mother always did. I thought it was strange but I let it slide. There were more important changes to be made to the man I intended to spend the rest of my life with .. ! "
Here is my 'from scratch' sodabread recipe. Own it, enjoy it, make it yours.
Soda Bread Recipe - from scratch !
Developing your own particular style of bread is very easy as long as you keep to the basic rules!
1. The principle behind soda bread making is that we combine an alkaline raising agent (i.e. bread soda) with an acidic liquid (i.e. buttermilk, sour milk or yogurt) to produce air and raise the bread.
2. Rule of thumb is 1lb/ 450grams flour to 1 rounded teaspoon of bread soda.
3. Make sure the bread soda ( Bicarbonate of Soda) is not 'stale'. It needs to be kept airtight after opening - and no, please do not use one that has been languishing in the back of the cupboard for years..
4. Sieve the plain flour for optimum results but it is OK if you don’t – just make sure there are no lumps in the bread soda and mix it in well with the other dry ingredients before you add any liquids.
The more traditional way to make soda bread called for a dry mix and significant kneading on a floured surface. I prefer a wetter mix (think the consistency of very thick porridge) which you spoon into a cake tin. I find it stays moist after baking for longer and more importantly – makes less of a mess to clean up after!
Basic Brown Soda Bread Recipe (Wet Mix)
8ozs/225 grams cream flour
8ozs/225 grams wholemeal flour
1 rounded teaspoon bread soda
A little with 400mls /15 fl.oz /¾ pint buttermilk
-Place the wholemeal flour in a bowl
-Sieve in the cream flour and bread soda
-Mix to ensure even distribution of the bread soda
-Pour on the buttermilk
-Mix to the consistency of thick porridge.
-Spoon into a greased high sided tin – either a 7” Round Cake Tin /2lb Loaf Tin / 2 x 1lb Loaf Tin
-Smooth down the top with the back of your wet hand.
-With a knife, cut a cross down the centre of your bread dough will allow it to rise more evenly, and according to an Irish piseog/superstition - stop the devil from stealing your cooling bread!.
-Bake for 40-50mins at 400F/200C/Gas 6 ( Drop temp. to 180C for fan assisted ovens) or until the loaf sounds hollow when you tap the bottom. ( the bake time will depend on tin size used . The 2 x smaller tins will take a shorter length of time.! )
-Remove from tin and cool on a wire rack.
-Best eaten on day of baking.
To personalise and improve on your basic mix I would suggest you try …
Rich Brown Soda Bread Recipe (Wet Mix)
8ozs/225grams cream flour
5ozs/150grams wholemeal flour
3ozs/appx 80 grams of a mixture of Wheat or Oat bran / Wheatgerm / Porridge Oatflakes / Pinhead Oatmeal
(Different combinations will result in a different flavoured bread – there is no need to go out and buy all of these, use whatever you have .The addition of some bran will give you a darker colour bread and also more fibre so this is a good one and since porridge tends to be a store cupboard staple add a fist of this one!) You can be very flexible in these measurements, just keep to the 1lb/454gram Flour to 1 rounded tsp. Bread Soda rule)
1 heaped teaspoon sugar or honey (optional, for added sweetness if you like it)
3 dessertspoon oil or melted butter/margarine( appx 1oz/28grams). This will make the bread a little softer and also adds to the texture and flavour.
1 egg and buttermilk to make up to 400ml/ 15 fl oz / ¾ pint liquid total.
-Same as before just adding your extra ingredients into the bowl after the dry ingredients and mix well with your wooden spoon.
-Spoon into greased tin.
-Sprinkle some Porridge oatflakes on top and press down with the back of your dry hand.
-Make a cut down the centre of the mix and bake as before.
-See how much prettier the dressing of oats makes the bread!!
-Remove from tin, cool and enjoy.
You can replace the wheat flour with spelt flour if you would like to reduce your wheat intake and/or are wheat intolerant – but remember not to add any wheat bran or wheatgerm, just use the oatflakes. This equally bakes to beautiful bread but with a nuttier flavour, and is complemented by the addition of the honey.
Feel free to add a small fistful of various optional ingredients with the dry ingredients, which do not need to be factored into the weight.
e.g. sunflower/pumpkin/sesame seeds
dried fruits etc
As in life , the secret to success in baking sodabread is
(a) show no fear ! - confidence is key
(b) a light hand and a gentle touch - so dont overwork the mix !