Two words. Easy.As. It smells amazing and tastes delicious so definitely worth a try.
I’ve always been a bit scared of making bread. No matter how easy people try to make sound, it is an art. Mary Berry openly admits that she leaves bread making to the experts and if Mary Berry can’t do it then I’ve always thought my chances don’t fair too well. However, I recently saw an old episode of River Cottage in which Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall was encouraging working mothers to make their own bread. The bread he was showing them to make was soda bread. It can be made from start to finish in 40 minutes. There is no yeast and no proving. Just a quick mix of the ingredients and straight in the oven. Doesn’t get much more appealing than that.
So I thought I would face my fears and break my bread making virginity. I recently ordered Leith’s Baking Bible and saw the section on quick breads featured a recipe for soda bread. Without any yeast, the bread relies on acidic buttermilk mixing with bicarbonate of soda. This chemical reaction together with the steam created from the liquid in the dough and expansion of the eggs allows the bread to rise.
Soda bread for me has always been quite dense but this was light with the perfect crust on the outside and didn’t stick to your mouth as you chewed it (always a bonus). The trick with this is to handle the dough very little and, unlike most breads, get it in the oven as soon as possible so make sure to have the oven pre-heating and your baking tray greased and ready to go. The smell of the bread is the first thing that hits you and that is enough for me to be converted to bread-making.
So the point of this is to encourage you to make bread. It isn’t difficult and you can’t get much better than freshly baked soda bread smeared in butter and served with a poached egg for breakfast. Delicious. Don’t be surprised if you finish the whole loaf though!
The River Cottage classic soda bread recipe is available here.