Gordon loves cooking and experimenting with food. He loves making new dishes, particularly with unusual or underused ingredients.
What Is Soda Bread?
Soda bread is a type of bread made without the addition of yeast as a leavening agent. It is made instead using bicarbonate of soda and depends upon any one of a number of other potential ingredients to make the bread rise. There is a virtually endless variety of soda breads made around the world. Some contain a lengthy list of sundry ingredients to give the bread extra visual appeal and flavours, either sweet or savoury.
This soda bread is very much of the traditional type, containing a minimal number of ingredients, keeping the cost of its production down and the time taken to prepare it to a minimum. It uses baking powder, which is a combination of bicarbonate of soda and the leavening agent cream of tartar. Its simplicity means that it is also the perfect accompaniment to a wide variety of other foodstuffs, from the simple butter and jam shown above, to cheeses, meats and pickles. Why not give it a go and see what tasty serving ideas you can come up with?
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Approximately four servings
- 1 pound strong white flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 5 fluid ounces natural yoghurt
- 5 fluid ounces milk
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (plus extra to grease baking sheet)
Step 1: You should start out by getting your oven on to preheat to 400F/200C. As there is no resting time required when making the dough for soda bread, you can easily prepare the dough from start to finish in the time it takes the oven to heat. You should also lightly oil the baking tray. In this instance, the bread was baked on a medium-sized pizza pan which is perfect for the purpose.
Step 2: Add the flour, baking powder and salt to a large mixing bowl. Be sure to stir briefly with a wooden spoon to evenly combine and form a well in the centre of the bowl, in to which you will subsequently pour the wet ingredients.
Step 3: Measure out the yoghurt and milk in a jug. Add the tablespoon of oil and stir briefly but well.
Step 4: Pour the milk and yoghurt combination into the flour. There is no substitute at this stage for hand mixing. Get your (spotlessly clean) hands into the bowl and mix well until the flour is all combined in the dough-like mix. You should also find that the dough largely ceases to stick to your hands when it is fully prepared.
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Step 5: Carefully roll the dough into a large ball with your hands, trying to get the surface as smooth as possible. There is no need to be too fussy, however, as the bubbles that form in the bread as it cooks will crater the surface. Set the ball of dough in the centre of your greased cooking tray or pizza pan.
Step 6: Lightly flatten the dough on the tray, keeping it thicker near the centre for the best presentation. It is optional at this stage to dust it with a little more flour. That was not done on this particular occasion.
Step 7: Making two deep cuts (around halfway through) across the mound of dough is nothing to do with presentation. It simply helps ensure even cooking and that you don't have uncooked dough at the centre of your soda bread when the outsides are perfectly cooked. Bake the bread in your oven for about 25 to 30 minutes, just until lightly golden.
You can tell soda bread is ready by carefully inserting a metal skewer into the thickest part. If the skewer meets minimal resistance and comes out clean, the bread is ready.
Step 8: Lift the bread with a large spatula on to a wire rack. Do allow it at least ten minutes to cool, even when your intention is to eat it hot/warm.
Soda Bread Can Be Paired With Any Meal
If there is one negative about soda bread, it is that it does not store well. It really should be eaten on the day that it is made to be enjoyed at its best, or at least within twenty-four hours. Alternatively, you could of course slice and toast it the following day.
As a rustic foodstuff, soda bread is more often broken by hand as opposed to being cut with a knife. Below is a further simple yet delicious serving suggestion which sees a chunk of bread served simply with some cheddar cheese and mixed pickles.
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© 2014 Gordon Hamilton