Beginning to bake #4: Bread in an hour

We’re on to post four of my baking mission – read the original rationale here. In this Lent project, we’ve gone from pancakes to muffins to scones. And now we’re starting bread.

But not scary yeasted bread – that comes later. A soda bread that can be ready in an hour. And that’s an hour from walking in the door to eating it (I timed it in case you didn’t believe me, and you can see the timer running in the photos).

Bake 35-40 mins

Soda bread and scones are very closely related. Instead of yeast, soda bread again relies on baking powder or bicarbonate of soda for leavening. As the name suggests, soda bread is most often made with bicarbonate of soda (baking soda if you’re in North America) along with something acidic like buttermilk. And apart from flour and a bit of salt, that’s all you need. A little melted butter is often added to make it more tender. There are also recipes with more butter, some sugar and raisins that make something more like a tea cake or a scone – also very good, and see the Smitten Kitchen variation below, adapted from the New York Times, which suggests serving with some cheese and apples.

IMG_0083

Back with a more austere recipe, with so little in the way of ingredients, you really need good flour, and proper seasoning to get a good flavour from the bread. Wholemeal or a mix of plain and wholemeal flour gives you a wheaty flavour and a more interesting texture. Spelt flour is also good, and small parts of rye flour mixed in will give another flavour again. Stoneground flour has more flavour than regular flour – the grinding process will incorporate the germ and more of the oils into the flour, so you can often see a visible difference, and it looks creamier than steel-ground plain flour.

Like scones, this bread will also stale fast, so it is best made and eaten warm on the same day (although it will also make decent toast the following day). But it’s so quick that there’s no need to keep it hanging around. Just make it when you want it.

Equipment:

Nothing new here: scales and measuring spoons, plus:

  • Bowl
  • Wooden spoon
  • Baking tray

Basic recipe:

  • 200g plain flour
  • 200g wholemeal plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 190g yoghurt + 140g milk (or 330ml buttermilk)
  • 1 tsp honey (optional)

Turn the oven on and set the temperature to 200C or 180C for a fan oven.

Weigh the flours into the bowl. Add the bicarbonate of soda and salt, and combine with a whisk.

Weigh flour and bicarb

Add the milk and yoghurt to the bowl. Add the honey on top if using, then use the spoon to mix everything together until you have a sticky ball of dough.

Mixed dough

Sprinkle plenty of flour on a board or the counter. Scrape the dough out onto it.
Turn onto floured counter

Sprinkle the top with more flour, and flour your hands. Fold each edge over into the centre to make it into a ball. It will be very sticky. Use plenty of flour, and don’t handle it too much. Just get it into a rough ball shape.

Fold into a ball
Lift the ball gently onto the floured baking sheet. Pat it out to about 3cm thick, just flattening it a bit.

Flour the handle of your wooden spoon, and press it into the surface of the dough to make a cross. This will give the dough room to expand in the oven, and help the loaf to rise a little, giving a lighter crumb.
Mark cross with a spoon handle

Put the tray into the oven and set the time for 35 minutes. After that time, check the loaf. It should be a dark golden brown. If you’re not sure, bake for another 5 or 10 minutes. I baked for 40 minutes at 180C in my fan oven. An oven without a fan will take longer.
Bake 35-40 mins

Leave to cool on a rack for at least 5 minutes, and then slice and enjoy warm with butter.

Serve warm

Variations:

Lorraine Pascale Soda Bread

Lorraine Pascale has a lovely recipe which makes a large loaf. She uses treacle to give the loaf flavour and a little sweetness.

Smitten Kitchen – Skillet Irish Soda Bread

Smitten Kitchen adapted a New York TImes recipe to make a much sweeter, more cake-like loaf, that is still incredibly good. I like to bake this one in my deep oven-proof cast-iron pan, lined with baking parchment, but it will work on a baking sheet as well.

Richard Corrigan – Whole poached wild salmon with wheaten bread

In Northern Ireland, soda bread is often known as wheaten bread. Here Richard Corrigan of Lindsay House and Bentley’s Oyster Bar in London, gives his wheaten bread recipe.

Published by

louise-marston

I’m Louise, and I’m a compulsive baker, cookbook hoarder and a bit of a food geek. I learnt to cook at home, and later at Tante Marie’s cooking school in San Francisco. With a science degree and a background in IT analysis, I like to understand why a recipe works, not just how to do it. Why the rules are there and when they can be broken.

6 thoughts on “Beginning to bake #4: Bread in an hour

  1. I’m a recent convert to soda bread and always make it to go with soup if making lunch for anyone. You’re right, it is so easy and so good. I’ve made Lorraine Pascale’s version a couple of times and like the colour that the treacle brings as well as the flavour. Now want to try your version with honey.

    1. It’s perfect with soup, and I’ll often make it on Saturday morning for lunch when I realise we don’t have any good bread in.
      I used chestnut honey for this, because I had it in the cupboard. It ended up a great colour, but I think that was more the flour than the honey.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *