Saturday, 23 February 2013

The easiest bread recipe ever.

I love having a pantry and running a store cupboard.  I love opening the door and seeing everything lined up on the shelves.


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.



Soda bread is so easy to make.  It doesn't keep for long.  Just like French bread it needs to be eaten on the day it is made.  But we have got oddly used to bread that keeps for days and days without apparently realising that commercially produced bread only does so because it is made with a whole range of additives, principally calcium propionate which inhibits the growth of mould.  Mind you, calcium propionate is as nothing compared to the emulsifiers, dough conditioners and enzyme bread improvers which are routinely added to factory produced bread to speed the bread making process and to extend the shelf life.  To know what you are eating when you munch your toast or eat your sandwiches you need to buy bread from small bakers, or to make it yourself.

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.

You need:
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.

43 comments:

  1. So this bread doesnt need kneading or rising?????

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  2. Yep, no kneading, no rising time. Just mix it all together and cook it!

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  3. Hello Elizabeth,

    Yes, I will be making that soda bread recipe! We too make our own bread, when time allows, and I am keen to try some new recipes. Infact your post has just prompted a conversation with my husband and daughter about making bread with lardons or Comté cheese in it (a little bakery in our fishing village in Normandy used to make something similar when I first moved to France). I get really excited about making soup. Soup stirring and cake baking are my favourite comfort-inducing activities. I love having full shelves but also enjoy making do...for a short while. A lack of vegetables, fruit, and good coffee is likely to make me grumpy.

    Lovely post, Elizabeth. I hope you are keeping warm.

    Stephanie

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    1. I am just the same with comfort food! I love making soup and we have it often in the winter, sometimes with our own vegetables. I also love baking - bread, cakes, puddings. The only downside is that it is very hard not to eat what you bake!

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  4. I love soda bread - it is ages since I have made it - you recipe has made me want to try it out again!

    Pomona x

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    1. What I really like is how quickly you have something which is genuinely bread! Hope it works for you if you use this recipe. You perhaps have one of your own!

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  5. I love soda bread, it is the perfect "drat I forgot to start the bread this morning" solution.

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    1. Exactly! We don't have it all that often but when we do I really enjoy the change.

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  6. A note from this side of the Irish sea: next time you make soda bread, draw a cross on top of the loaf to let the fairies out while it bakes!

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    1. I do make the cross in the top Liz but never knew it would let the fairies out!

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  7. Oh this looks so perfect. I do love making bread, but have never tried anything like this. Many thanks!

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    1. This is a great recipe and if you are already a breadmaker it will be so easy!

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  8. This is a 'will try'. My immediate question, as with Helen, was 'wot, no kneading?'. It's a shame to miss out one of the nicest bits of bread making - on the other hand, I'd make bread more often if I didn't have to put aside time to knead and rise it!

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    1. I agree, I like kneading bread, but the beauty of this recipe is the speed!

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  9. Brilliant - thank you! I had in my head that you needed buttermilk so thank for suggesting a successful alternative.

    (How funny - we are also in 'pantry' mode! We had a lovely pantry at our previous house which we miss so we're currently looking at our utility with a view to using the space better an fitting in a pantry!)

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    1. Pantries are wonderful. I wonder if they have pantries in the States and if so what they call them?

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  10. Looks good enough to eat! I shall have to try this soon and thanks for the tip about the lemon juice!

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    1. I used to be able to buy buttermilk in the supermarket when I lived in the city but it is not available much round here and the lemon juice trick works just as well.

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  11. I think I can taste it right here in Michigan . . . looks and sounds yummy, dee lish . . .

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    1. Oh Lynne, you will know the answer to the question about pantries! What do you call them, if you have them, in the US?

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  12. A pantry is a godsent - though always living in cities I (almost) always had one. The glowing feeling that one is "prepared" (especially nice in winter :-)
    I often bake bread - and having translated 'Leon. Baking and Puddings' for the German publisher, I have a soda bread recipe too - but as I like experimenting I will try yours too, thank you for sharing!

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    1. I think this one keeps better than some others I have tried (although still not for very long!). I imagine it might be the fat in it. Love to know how you get on if you try it.

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  13. Soda bread is really delicious - I used to be able to get buttermilk at a little local dairy, but since Mrs P closed (well, she was - I think - 82) I've used yoghurt. Must give this recipe a go!

    (PS: I have cupboard envy.)

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    1. Haven't tried yoghurt but yes, sure that would work too. Might give it a go next time!

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  14. Back when I used to eat bread, I used my mom's Irish soda bread recipe, and those wee loaves would last a few days at least. Not sure why yours should have to be eaten right off, unless it's just a good excuse to devour the whole delicious thing at once without feeling guilty! *wink*

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    1. They last better with some fat in them. My original recipe had no butter or lard and still worked but this one is better I think. And yes, could just be the perfect excuse. Maybe they would keep for a week if I let them!

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  15. Oooh, no kneading? How fab. I was just about to get the bread machine out (I know, I know) but I think I will try this for tonight's dinner.
    And in case Lynne doesn't answer your pantry question - here in the mid-west at least, people don't really have walk-in pantries but they do often have enormous cupboards in the kitchen which store just as much. People always know what I mean when I say "pantry" but the usually just talk about the kitchen cabinets. Lynne, if she lives elsewhere, might have a different version.

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    1. Huge cupboards are very nearly as good. The only thing they lack is that you can't get in shut in them. Used to love scaring myself when I was a kid by shutting myself in my Nana's pantry, having carefully extracted a biscuit from the tin before shutting the door. Ate the biscuit in the dark and then came out again!

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  16. I fear I am also rather too addicted to a bread machine, but even the 'rapid bake' program takes 3 hours. I will definitely be trying the soda bread alternative, because it looks so easy! Broccoli and stilton soup (with extra stilton) and fresh baked bread would be my number one winter lunch!

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    1. I have a real weakness for broccoli and stilton soup too. In fact I love most soup!

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  17. Wow that looks delicious. I've always been frightened of Soda Bread fpr some reason but will be having a go now! Thank you.

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    1. Don't be frightened of it. Truly it is the easiest bread to make.

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  18. Your soda bread looks very tasty. I always bake my own bread and love to discover new recipes, so I'm pleased to read about this one. I agree about "trusting" your own bread; a lot of the shop bread has to be full of all sorts of stuff to stop it going stale quickly.

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    1. It is part of a general desire to trust our own food. I know lots still comes from supermarkets but we grow quite a bit and buy quite a bit of our meat from the local butcher so making bread is a part of that, and also just tastes so good!

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  19. That looks really delicious, and living off the beaten track as we do - so easy to knock up out of store cupboard ingredients. Broccoli and Stilton soup sounds mouthwatering too.

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    1. There is nothing like not being round the corner from a shop to make you use your store cupboard!

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  20. Now this is getting spooky - I've been making soda bread too. I've found that thinned natural yoghurt is also a good buttermilk substitute (as is milk just on the turn - which is what NAH's SIL's mum used to do). I've been dry frying pumpkin and sunflower seeds to add to the mix - much to NAH's approval :)

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    1. I have used natural yoghurt too and find it works well. Like the sound of the seedy additions!

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  21. Gosh, that looks good. Will print out the recipe and try it. I know what you mean about larders. We used to have a house with a walk-in pantry and a large marble shelf. Although it was in the middle of the house this always seemed slightly chilly. Maybe it was my imagination. Sadly the larder was almost as big as the kitchen so, regretfully, we took down the dividing walls. All that was a long time (and two houses) ago.

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    1. Well there is always a space problem unless you have a huge cavernous house with associated cold corridors or vast heating bills. Pantries for me have come and gone with changing houses but do like them a lot.

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  22. Hi again Yes, Belstone is very close. We're up near Kestor Rocks three miles out of Chagford. Thought it best to reply that specifically away from my blog. Belstone is gorgeous isn't it. I doubt it will ever spread any further. Chagford has just signed a deal with the government where we get a new primary school but have to fill the fields opposite with houses. When we first moved here I would have thought that scenario completely impossible but there you are....progress!

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  23. Oh no! This post has just reminded me that I should have got some bread today. Will have to look in the cupboard now to see what I can rustle up. I've made soda bread in the past but forget how easy it is when I'm running short.
    Teresa x

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  24. thanks for the recipe - I will give it a try. I totally share your pantry-love, my husband built me a couple of years ago and I still keep just opening the door to admire it!!!

    Nikki x

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