It’s nearly Christmas! Today I baked some beautiful Christmas bread wreaths inspired by Artisan Bread in Five. I’ve noted down this easy Christmas bread wreath recipe below. Try it – you’ll be rewarded with some very decorative festive breads.
There are also some wonderfully adventurous Christmas bread and baking recipes in Trine Hahnemann’s beautifully presented book ‘Scandinavian Christmas‘.
A simple white yeast bread dough is transformed into beautiful wreaths with the help of a pair of kitchen scissors and some rosemary sprigs.
Ingredients (for 3 Christmas bread wreaths)
1kgstrong bread flourplus a little extra for dusting
21g3 sachets dried yeast
1level tablespoon salt
A few sprigs of fresh rosemaryfinely chopped
1tablespoonof fresh thyme leaves
PREPARE THE BREAD DOUGH
Add 200ml of the lukewarm water, the honey, 1 sachet of yeast and 4 tablespoons of flour into a large bowl and mix together with a balloon whisk. Don’t add salt at this stage!
Leave to rest in a warm place for about ½ an hour.
Add the remaining ingredients to make the dough. Start with the flour, then add half the water followed by the yeast, salt, rosemary, thyme and finally the rest of the water, using a fork to stir initially until the dough starts to combine.
Knead for 10 minutes to form an elastic dough.
Place in a lightly floured bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave to rest in a warm, draught-free place until it has doubled in size (approximately an hour).
SHAPE & BAKE THE WREATHS
Knock the air out of the dough with your hands.
If required - lightly dust the dough to avoid it sticking to your hands.
Flatten the dough, then divide into three equal parts. You can use a serrated knife to help with this.
Form each part into a roll (approximately 25 cm long), then combine the ends into a ring i.e. the wreath-form. Wet your hands with warm water to help fuse the ends together.
Place each wreath on a piece of baking paper and allow to rest for half an hour in a warm place.
Preheat the oven to 220°C.
Lightly dust the dough with flour.
Using kitchen scissors make deep cuts into the dough ring. Cut almost to the bottom of the wreath to achieve the desired effect.
Carefully place the resulting ‘wedges’ out away from the ring to form points.
As it’s Christmas, I used some rosemary sprigs to decorate the wreath and rock salt to garnish the top of the bread wreaths.
Slide the ring and the parchment paper right onto the wire rack (or baking stone if you have one) and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and hollow when tapped at the bottom.
An excellent addition to our annual Christmas lunch. We had it with a warming celery, leek and potato soup.
Looking for a bread recipe full of wholesome goodness? This loaf of brown seeded wholemeal bread is bursting with healthy seeds and kernels. Great for using up the various bits and pieces you might have waiting in your store cupboard!
Combine these ingredients in a medium bowl, cover and keep at room temperature for approx. 16 hours.
40g flax seeds (golden or brown)
Combine in a small bowl and cover for approx. 16 hours.
Day 2 – Prepare the toasted seeds & dough
Prepare the toasted seed mix
3 tbsp sunflower seeds
3 tbsp pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp sesame seeds
You can replace some of the above and mix in some rolled oats or poppy seeds or even some chopped nuts, whatever you have available or feel like.
Place the seeds in a frying pan (no oil!) and toast the mixed seeds for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, then leave to cool. (Alternatively, you can toast the seed mix in the oven at 150°C).
Prepare the main dough
300g sourdough from day 1
Flaxseed soaker from day 1
Toasted seed mix (as per the above)
600g wholemeal flour (wheat or spelt)
Combine the sourdough, flaxseed soaker, wholemeal flour, water and salt in a large bowl, then knead for 10 minutes. It’s important to get the consistency of the dough right, so make sure it’s not too dry and not too wet. Add some more water if the dough is hard to knead. If in doubt – wetter is better!
Add in the toasted seed mix until evenly distributed.
Cover and leave to rest in a warm place for ½ hour.
Butter a lidded pullman loaf tin, then move the dough from the bowl into the tin. Squash the dough in quite firmly and evenly.
Cover the tin with the lid and place in the fridge overnight or approx. 12 – 16 hours.
Day 3 – Bake
Take the pullman loaf tin out of the fridge and preheat the oven to 190°C for 20 minutes.
Brush the top of the dough with water and sprinkle some more sunflower seeds on top.
Bake at 190°C for 1 hour. Remove the bread from the tin approx. 15 minutes before the hour is up and put back into the oven – the bread will get a much better crust that way.
Remove from the loaf pan, wrap in a clean kitchen towel and leave to cool on a wire rack.
Last Sunday I was invited to a Thanksgiving dinner and my friend Mariel from NY put on a huge feast for us (great homemade rum ice cream also by Rich!). Of course, my contribution to the dinner was going to be bread related and for this occasion it had to be cornbread (the savoury kind). This is my very own savoury cornbread recipe, tried and tested many times.
First of all, some clarification on cornmeal since I live in the UK and this is a typical US dish. Cornmeal (the finely ground version you need for cornbread) is also referred to as maize flour in the UK or you might get finely ground polenta.
Traditionally in the States, a skillet (a cast iron pan with slanted sides) is used for baking cornbread. The skillet is the only way to make it all-round crispy and crunchy. Unfortunately, I’m currently lacking a skillet (not much longer I hope!) so I used a baking tin. You can use the same recipe to make savoury cornbread muffins. Just divide the mixture among the muffin tins and bake for slightly shorter than in the below recipe (about 20 minutes overall).
Easy to put together and a great side dish for Thanksgiving, Christmas dinner or any other time of the year, whenever you fancy a delicious snack! TIP: Get all the ingredients ready and all the chopping and grating done before you start putting the savoury cornbread batter together.
Ingredients for savoury cornbread
100gplain white flour
½tspbicarbonate of soda
50gbuttermelted, plus 1 tbsp of butter for the onions
100gsweetcornfrom the tin, chopped
1large onionfinely chopped
2fresh green or red chillideseeded and finely chopped
How to make cornbread
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Line a baking tray with baking paper. In terms of baking tray size, the above recipe will fill a 23cm square (or round) baking tin, about 4cm deep.
Melt a tablespoon of the butter in a frying pan and sautée the onion for 2 minutes.
Add the chili and fry for another 5 minutes until the onions start to brown.
Add the chopped sweetcorn kernels and stir for another 2 - 3 minutes.
Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, mix the maize flour, plain flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Stir the dry ingredients with a balloon whisk until well blended.
In a separate bowl - mix together the butter, eggs, honey and buttermilk - again a balloon whisk works best.
Add both mixtures (the dry and wet ingredients) together, mix it all up carefully until combined.
Gently fold in the onion, chili and sweetcorn mixture and ⅔ of the grated cheddar. You should now have a creamy, thick, barely pourable batter.
Pour the batter into the baking tin and bake at 200°C for about 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven to quickly sprinkle the remaining ⅓ of the grated cheese on top.
Return to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes or until the cornbread turns golden brown.
Check that the bread is baked through by inserting a toothpick into the centre – it should come out completely clean.
Allow the bread to cool in the baking tin for about 10 - 15 minutes before you move it onto a wire rack.
What a wonderfully colourful bread! Soft and moist on the inside with a deep golden brown top layer.
This savoury cornbread recipe works really well with soups, starters, grilled meat or salads. Try to fry slices in butter, it’s delicious.
Experiment with the ingredients, take out the chili and just add some fresh herbs such as thyme. Build a basic cornbread batter and add whatever you are in the mood for – sun-dried tomatoes or olives for example. Note that you might need to adjust the amount of buttermilk you use as the consistency of the batter will be determined by the moisture content of your selection of savoury ingredients.
Wrap any leftovers in foil and reheat in the oven for 10 – 15 minutes.
While visiting my brother-in-law’s family in Dublin last weekend, I was looking for something which would be fun to bake, make and eat with the kids.
After a lovely cycle along the Dublin coastline, we went for a bit of grocery shopping in Sandymount Village and paid Michael Byrne & Son (Craft Butchers) a visit.
We couldn’t help but notice the great variety of (huge!) sausages on display and decided to buy a selection for a family hot dog feast on Sunday.
Here’s a recipe for delicious hot dog buns. They taste A LOT better than any supermarket buns and add hugely to the hot dog cooking experience.
What you’ll need to bake them (ingredients) – Bakes 8 Hot Dog buns
500g strong white flour
2 teaspoons of salt
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 tablespoon of dried yeast
200ml milk, lukewarm
100ml water, lukewarm
25g melted butter
1 egg, beaten
How you’ll bake them –
Add 100ml of the lukewarm milk, the sugar, yeast and 2 tablespoons of flour into a large bowl and mix together. Don’t add the salt or butter at this stage!
Leave to rest in a warm place until the volume has doubled.
Add the remaining ingredients to make the dough.
Knead for 10 minutes and leave to rise for an hour in a lightly floured bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and place in a draught-free place
Preheat the oven to 230°C.
Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces.
Now form the hot dogs –
Use your palms to form a ball for each of the parts and then pat the pieces into oval shapes (about ⅔ of the length of your hot dog sausages). You won’t need a rolling pin for this.
Use the edge of your hand to indent the dough down the length of the center.
Gently fold the sides into the middle of the oval (length-wise i.e. only fold the two longer sides) towards the indentation you created and close by slightly pinching the edges to seal. Make sure the folded package is still going to be wide enough to fill with your hot dog sausages and tasty fillings later.
Turn the dough pieces around so that the seams are at the bottom (seam-side down).
Roll the dough buns carefully back and forth to gently seal the seams.
Tuck any sharp ends in to flatten / round the ends. Each piece should now be of the same length as your hot dog sausages.
Place all the pieces onto baking paper on a baking tray.
Cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave to rise in a warm place for about 30 mins.
Brush each bun with the beaten egg.
Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for approximately 20 mins or until golden brown. The buns should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Cool for about 10 mins on a wire rack before eating.
Gently open and fill – enjoy the deliciously rich flavour!
Apart from the very tasty sausages we added fried onions and wholegrain mustard, some Kilmeaden cheddar as well as chopped tomatoes (with sea salt, freshly ground pepper and a bit of olive oil).
Daragh and Aoibhinn preferred the simpler sausage and ketchup version 🙂
At home in Austria for the week, I was keen to bake some traditional Austrian Schwarzbrot (black bread) with my family. It was a good team effort! My grandmother provided the recipe for Hausbrot, my mum prepared the rye sourdough and got the various ingredients ready and I did the dough work.
There are many different recipes for Austrian Hausbrot (‘bread of the house’) but all of them have the following ingredients in common –
A variety of flours whereby rye flour is always used but usually mixed with wheat or spelt flour
Typically, proving baskets/bannetons (called Simperl or Gärkörbchen in German) made of cane or rattan are used to rest and prove the bread and mould its final shape. These bread baskets come in round or oval shapes and different sizes. Proving baskets are perfect for soft and loose doughs and give your bread loaves uniform-ish shapes.
Hausbrot Austrian Schwarzbrot Recipe
A true taste of Austria, try this Austrian bread recipe (my grandmother’s authentic family recipe) with a creamy Austrian potato soup or hearty Goulash soup.
Prepare the sourdough and preferment in two separate bowls and cover. Keep at room temperature for about 16-24 hours.
Combine 500g of the sourdough (the rest goes back into the fridge for your next bake), the preferment, plain flour, rye flour, salt, yeast, fennel seeds and Austrian bread spices to make a soft dough.
Knead for approx. 10 minutes. The dough will be quite sticky due to the high rye flour content in this recipe but should be manageable.
Shape the dough into a ball and place it into a bowl, cover and keep at room temperature until it has doubled in size (approximately 1 to 2 hours depending on the temperature of the room).
Prepare the proving basket by lightly dusting it with flour. If you don’t have such bread baskets to hand, you can also use a bowl lined with a kitchen towel and flour. This technique will support the shape of the dough and will ultimately avoid that the dough flattens when it expands.
Give the dough another quick knead and form a loaf.
Cover the dough surface with flour (I tend to do this on a floured work surface and with floury hands) and place it in the proving basket.
Leave to rest for another 2 hours or so for the bread’s final prove. Again, this may take longer depending on your room temperature.
20 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 250°C. If you have a La Cloche baking dome, preheat this in the oven from cold at the same time. If you don’t have a baking dome, preheat a baking tray.
Turn out the loaf from the proving basket onto the hot baking dome plate or baking tray (line the tray with baking parchment first).
Kleingebäck or Kleinbrote are the German words and classifications for small breads weighing 250g or less. In Austria, Switzerland and Germany there is a huge variety of Kleingebäck – every region and, in fact, every bakery will have their own selection.
Kleinbrote are usually eaten for breakfast or as part of the Jause (Austrian German – a snack or small meal usually eaten mid-morning or in the early evening) and works equally well with sweet or savoury toppings. Salzstangerl are my personal favourite Kleingebäck.
Making Salzstangerl at home is easier than you might think. Go and give it a try!
Ingredients – 12 Salzstangerl
500g plain white flour / bread flour
1 teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of sugar
1 tablespoon of dried, instant yeast
250ml lukewarm milk
50g melted butter
(Note: If you would like a lighter end product replace the milk and butter with lukewarm water)
Coarse sea salt
How to make Salzstangerl
Add 100ml of the lukewarm milk, sugar, yeast and 2 tablespoons of flour into a large bowl and mix together. Don’t add the salt or butter at this stage!
Leave to rest in a warm place until the volume has doubled.
Add the remaining ingredients to make the dough and leave to rest again.
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Divide the dough into 12 equal parts.
Use your palms to form a ball for each of the parts.
Lightly dust a work surface with flour.
Roll out each dough ball into a very flat oval shape.
Hold onto the bottom part of the oval shape with your left hand while rolling the dough from the top part towards the bottom part. The more you squeeze the dough with your right hand while rolling, the longer the Salzstangerl will be.
Put all the pieces onto baking paper onto a baking tray.
Cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave to rest (and grow) in a warm place for 15 mins.
Spray with water and sprinkle with sea salt and caraway seeds.
Bake on the middle shelve of the oven for approximately 15-20 mins.
Cool on a wire rack.
If you want to freeze the Stangerl, parbake them for 10 mins, fully cool them, then freeze. You can then take them out of the freezer whenever you feel like Salzstangerl, put a little water on top and finish baking them in a non-preheated oven.
You can also freeze fully baked Salzstangerl for up to a month.
In fitting with today’s delightfully autumnal weather, I decided to cook a hearty vegetarian curry with butternut squash. As is the case for most dishes, Indian curries taste best if eaten with freshly baked breads. I’ve made this spelt flour chapati recipe many times since visiting India in 2007 and it didn’t let me down today. These homemade spelt chapatis are no hassle at all – you’ll be done in just over an hour.
When visiting Malaysia recently, I picked up a tava (a round flat or slightly concave iron griddle) used in Indian cooking to make flatbreads. I haven’t got the traditional Atta flour handy, so I’m opting for a mix of wholemeal and white spelt flour instead.
Unleavened flatbreads (i.e. made from a dough containing no yeast or leavening agents)
An integral part of the Indian cuisine (also eaten in Pakistan and other parts of South Asia)
Traditionally made with Atta flour (stone ground wholemeal flour which has been sifted to remove the coarsest bran), salt and water. You can use a mixture of wholemeal and white flour if you don’t have Atta flour to hand.
Cooked on a tava (you can also use a flat bottom non-stick frying pan)
Spelt chapati recipe
Ingredients for 6 chapatis
100g finely ground wholemeal spelt flour
100g white spelt flour plus extra for dusting
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of rapeseed oil plus extra for brushing
How to make the spelt flour chapatis
Before you follow the instructions, here is a video for a quick introduction of the process:
Place the spelt flours, water and salt in a large bowl.
Form a soft dough with your hands. Note that firmer dough is easier to handle but makes harder chapatis. If required, just add a little more water until you get the right consistency.
Add a tablespoon of oil and transfer to a clean surface.
Knead for about 10 minutes.
Shape the dough into a ball, place in a bowl and cover.
Allow to rest for about 30 minutes.
Divide into 6 equal pieces.
Shape the dough into balls by rolling the pieces between your palms.
Place them on a lightly dusted surface.
Roll out the dough balls (one by one) into a thin round on a lightly floured surface.
Heat up a frying pan over a medium heat and place the chapatis (one at a time) straight on the hot surface.
Keep it there for about 30 seconds until blisters appear and it becomes slightly darker in colour.
Turn and cook the other side in the same way. The steam trapped in the middle will cause the chapati to puff up. Use a clean kitchen towel to gently push down as air pockets form.
Once done, lightly brush the chapati with rapeseed oil (traditionally ghee is used) and cover with a clean dish towel until ready to serve.
Enjoy with dhal or your favourite curry – no cutlery needed!
Returning from a work trip mid-week, I discovered that pretty much all of our bread stash (fresh and frozen) had been eaten. Noooo! I had to act quickly and this white spelt flour bread recipe was just perfect. If you need a bread-fix quickly, use this simple recipe for a basic white sandwich loaf to help you get by.
White spelt flour bread recipe (using yeast)
This recipe uses white spelt flour which I prefer using over plain wheat flour, but it will work with any plain white flour you have at home.
What you’ll need to make the white spelt flour loaf –
500g white spelt flour
280ml lukewarm water
7g sachet of dried yeast
How to make the white spelt loaf –
Add all ingredients above into a medium bowl and combine well.
Knead the dough thoroughly and patiently for about 10 minutes (this is the fun part!). The result should be a silky, smooth, elastic dough.
Put the dough back into the bowl and cover with a lid for about an hour or longer until well risen.
Once risen, take the dough out of the bowl and reduce its size again by ‘knocking it back’ (kneading it firmly but briefly to knock the air out).
Shape into a boule and leave on the worktop for 10 minutes to relax the gluten.
Place the dough into a baking tin and cover with a polythene bag to prevent it from drying out.
Let the dough prove at room temperature until it’s doubled in size. This may take an hour in a warm room but longer in a colder room.
Preheat the oven to 220°C about half an hour before baking.
Bake the loaf for 45 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack or wrap in a clean dishtowel if you like a softer crust.
The result –
A great looking white spelt bread loaf – beautiful with butter and strawberry or raspberry jam in the morning. Great also for soaking up the juices from this amazing autumnal casserole dish.
White spelt flour bread recipe (using sourdough)
If you have more time, I would recommend baking the loaf with sourdough instead of yeast. Replace some of the white flour with wholemeal flour, infuse the dough with nigella seeds and you’ll have an entirely new loaf.
Here’s how to make it.
Ingredients for a spelt sourdough loaf –
50g sourdough starter
250g white spelt flour
250g wholemeal spelt flour
280ml lukewarm water
1 tbsp nigella seeds
How to make spelt sourdough bread –
Combine the sourdough starter with 100g white spelt flour, 100g wholemeal spelt flour and 200g water. Mix well and cover with a lid. Keep at room temperature for 16 to 24 hours.
Take 50g of sourdough out of the bowl to put back into the fridge for future sourdough baking before adding the remaining 150g white spelt flour, 150g wholemeal spelt flour, 80g water and 7g salt into the bowl. Follow steps 2 to 10 below but beware that sourdough may take longer to rise. Just before step 6, sprinkle the nigella seeds into the baking tin before placing the dough on top.
My friend Felix from Munich frequently impresses guests with his delicious Flammkuchen, a type of German flatbread with a delicious sour cream, bacon and onion topping. He provided all his Flammkuchen baking insight to me yesterday, so what better way to finish a long week than unwinding with a freshly baked Flammkuchen and a nice glass of Austrian Weißburgunder, watching a movie on the couch wrapped in a cosy blanket – or dressed in one of these (who knew that Tart Flambée T-Shirts were a thing??!). Here is his Flammkuchen recipe for all of you to enjoy!
What is Flammkuchen?
Flammkuchen (or Tarte Flambée in French) is an Alsatian dish – it’s easy to make and you’ll only need a few ingredients. The traditional Flammkuchen toppings are sour cream (Felix recommends crème fraiche as it’s thicker), onions and bacon. I’m planning to experiment with different toppings, but to start with, I go all traditional on this recipe.
Before I jump into the Flammkuchen recipe instructions, a few additional notes on what Flammkuchen is and what it’s not.
Flammkuchen is often referred to as ‘German pizza’, so I just wanted to set the record straight on this one.
Flammkuchen and pizza use the same base dough. The key difference is that Flammkuchen uses a base of sour cream or crème fraiche while pizza comes with tomato sauce. Flammkuchen is also not to be confused with white pizza which is pizza with a cheese base. Cheese is not traditionally used as a topping for Flammkuchen and the bread dough crust is generally thinner when compared to pizza. And… the Flammkuchen shape is usually rectangular or oval rather than round as it is for pizza.
This delicious Flammkuchen recipe is easy to prepare and rewards your work with delicious flavours. The quantities below are for 4 portions.
Course Main Course
Prep Time 2hours30minutes
Cook Time 15minutes
Dough resting time 2hours
Total Time 2hours45minutes
Flammkuchen dough recipe
500gflourI used 400g strong white flour and 100g wholemeal flour; however if you can get your hands on strong 00 flour this will work even better
7g dried yeast
A little olive oil
Flammkuchen sauce and toppings
12 strips of baconcut into small squares or cubes
2onionsfinely sliced into rings
250gcrème fraicheor sour cream
230gnatural Greek Yoghurt
Freshly ground black pepper
How to make Flammkuchen
Combine all dough ingredients in a large bowl to form a rough dough.
Knead the dough for 10 minutes until you have a smooth, elastic, stretchy and velvety dough.
Place the dough back into your bowl and cover with a lid.
Leave to rest for 1 to 2 hours at room temperature (or overnight in the fridge).
Preheat the oven and a baking tray to 250°C (the highest temperature possible) 30 minutes before the bake. If you have a pizza stone, preheat the oven and the pizza stone 1 hour before.
Divide the dough into 4 parts (8 parts for smaller sized Flammkuchen). I use a dough scraper to do this.
Shape each part into a ball and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
Combine the crème fraiche and yoghurt in a small bowl, add the nutmeg, salt and pepper and mix well.
Roll out the dough pieces (2-3 mm) and transfer to sheets of baking paper.
Cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave to rest for about 15 minutes.
Fry the bacon strips briefly until almost cooked, don't let them get crispy.
Fry the onion rings in the same pan until slightly browned.
If you are making all 4 (or 8 small) Flammkuchen but baking only one, two (or a few) at a time, don't add the topping to all of them at once. One by one works better as the topping doesn't melt into the dough that way.
Evenly and generously spread the cream mixture onto the dough (you want a really thick coating in order for the finished product not to be too dry), leave a small border around the edge (this will turn golden-brown and crispy).
Scatter the onion rings and bacon on top and sprinkle with thyme.
Slide the sheet of baking paper with the prepared Flammkuchen onto the preheated baking tray and bake for about 12 minutes or until the edges are nicely browned and the bottom is crisp. Repeat until all Flammkuchen are baked.
If you have leftover dough, you can refrigerate this in cling film and bake more Flammkuchen the next day.
If baking the next day is not an option, you can freeze it too. Roll out the dough into a base and par-bake (for about 3 mins). It needs to be fully cooled before you freeze it. When you feel like a cheeky Flammkuchen, simply take out the base, add the topping and bake again.
Hope you enjoy this Flammkuchen recipe as much as I do, it’s perfect for a night in!
I found our bread basket empty this Sunday morning. Not good! Traditional Irish white soda bread is the perfect loaf for situations like this. It’s very easy to put together, only five basic ingredients are needed and fresh bread will be on your breakfast table in just over an hour.
Quick White Soda Bread Recipe
This quick white soda bread recipe will reward your taste buds and will also fill your kitchen with the most amazing smell of fresh baking. Great things happen when fragrant flour, tangy buttermilk and bicarbonate of soda come together. Bicarbonate of soda is the raising ingredient used in soda bread recipes. As an alkali, it needs an acid to perform its magic – in this case buttermilk, yoghurt or the lemon-milk mix.
White soda bread ingredients
400g plain flour
100g wholemeal wheat flour
15g bicarbonate of soda
400g buttermilk – Both real or cultured buttermilk work. If you can’t get buttermilk, you can also work with yoghurt or souring milk with lemon juice or white wine vinegar. As always when replacing ingredients, you may need to adjust the dough’s hydration to get the desired texture.
Where can I buy real buttermilk in the UK & Ireland?
Real buttermilk is the thick, acidic by-product of butter churning. Cultured buttermilk, as sold in many supermarkets and shops, is made by adding lactic cultures to ordinary milk. Buy real buttermilk in the UK from Longley Farm and in Ireland from Cuinneog.
How to make white soda bread
Preheat the oven to 200°C (gas mark 6). Don’t ignore this step, it’s important that the oven is fully preheated by the time the dough is ready.
Sieve the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large mixing bowl and mix well. The sifting is important, particularly for the bicarb of soda, as the lumps do not dissolve in the liquid.
Make sure the dry ingredients are mixed evenly, then add the buttermilk. Mix well but minimally i.e. don’t over-mix. Make sure everything is happening swiftly as the bicarbonate of soda will begin to react with the acid buttermilk as soon as they make contact. Working quickly helps you take advantage of all the carbon dioxide produced to lift the dough.
The soda bread dough will be quite soft but that’s just perfect. Shape into a round loaf and flour lightly.
Place the loaf on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
Now make the trademark soda bread cross to divide the loaf into four sections. Cut the dough with a knife to make a deep cross; cut almost fully through the dough (about 80%).
Bake for approx. 45 minutes at 200°C on the top shelf. The loaf is ready when it has a nice brown colour, has risen well and sounds hollow when tapped. Cover with tin foil after 30 minutes if the bread browns too quickly.
Wrap the soda bread loaf in a tea towel while it cools to soften the crust or cool on a wire rack if you like your crust to be crisper.
Best served fresh and eaten on the same day – what a Sunday morning treat!
You can store the soda bread at room temperature for about two to three days. I usually freeze half a loaf and defrost again later in the week. It doesn’t otherwise keep that well. Freshen the defrosted bread by placing it in the oven for a few minutes before serving.
Also try this delicious brown soda bread recipe which is a much more wholesome version of the above basic white soda bread.
Any visit to my husband’s grandmother’s house would see the obligatory cup of Barry’s Tea accompanied by a slice of brown soda bread topped with generous amounts of Kerry Gold butter and raspberry jam. Happy memories!