I love the deep slate shelf where the eggs and vegetables sit. I love the bags hanging on the door. And most of all I love the fact that I can always find what I need to feed my family. Somewhere in there will be what you need to make a meal for three stretch to six or to make homemade soup on a cold February morning.
This morning I found some ageing broccoli in the bottom of the fridge and converted it, with the help of the store cupboard, into broccoli and Stilton soup. While I was chopping onions I suddenly had the urge to have some new bread with the soup for lunch. We make all our own bread but our normal mix needs a few hours to rise. It was half past eleven so the only chance of new bread for lunch lay in making some soda bread.
You will need about forty minutes to be spreading your soda bread with salty butter, not a lot when you think of the time it takes to get the car out, drive to the supermarket, whizz round the aisles and wait at the checkout before driving home. This mix makes two small cobs, about enough for a family of four to have with soup for lunch and the odd sandwich. Halve the recipe if you won't eat it all in one day. I have given the measurements in ounces because that is how I know this one, but have also translated it into metric. I have never made it using the US method of cups for measurement but there is a handy conversion here if you want to have a try.
8 oz (225g) white flour (strong bread flour is good but not absolutely necessary if you don't have it, use plain instead)
8 oz (225g) wholemeal flour
1 tsp salt (bread is one of the few things that you just can't make without salt. It tastes foul)
2 tsp cream of tartar
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 oz (50g) lard or butter (I use butter but lard is traditional)
half a pint (300ml) of milk (traditionally buttermilk but I use ordinary semi skimmed with the juice of half a lemon in it to sour it slightly).
Put the oven on at 200 degrees C (400 F, Gas Mark 7)
Sieve the dry ingredients together to get rid of lumps in the bicarbonate or the cream of tartar. Sieving will leave you with the husky flakes from the wholemeal flour in the bottom of the sieve. Tip these back into the dry ingredients and mix well.
Rub in the fat quickly until it looks like breadcrumbs.
Add the liquid a bit at time (I do it in about three lots) and mix it in. You should be left with a soft, slightly wet dough. I always do the last bit of mixing with my fingers. This lets you learn what it should feel like. If the mixture is very wet you can add a little more flour so that you can handle it.
Put some flour on a work surface, put the dough on it and cut the dough in half. Shape each piece into a round cob.
Put both pieces side by side on a greased baking sheet. Cut a cross shape into the top. This will help the bread to rise evenly.
Put on the centre shelf of the oven and bake for around 30 minutes. I always turn my bread around halfway through baking as the back of the oven is hotter than the front. You may have super even ovens in which case I would just check after about fifteen minutes to make sure the bread is not cooking too fast.
Take it out and cool on a wire rack. The bread is quite crumbly but, if you are me, can be very satisfactorily stuck together if it falls apart on you with copious amounts of salty Welsh butter.
If you have a go I would love to know how you get on.