I would like to think of myself as the type of person who bakes fresh bread now and then, but I might as well face it, I fall short in that area. I’ve had a packet of yeast in the cupboard for quite a long time now and if I’m honest with myself, it’ll probably be in there for a while longer. I know that one day I’ll do it, but right now, surrounded by washing up, building blocks and lunchtime debris, the last thing I can imagine doing is patiently waiting for a loaf to prove.
This soda bread recipe comes from the Ella’s Kitchen First Foods recipe book and it’s a winner all round. It’s really easy to make, my one year old daughter loves getting her gums round the lovely crust and getting it out of the oven makes you feel like a real, bona fide baker without any of the hassle usually associated with bread making! It would also be a really nice recipe to get older children involved with – they would love getting their hands stuck into the lovely dense dough.
I’ll admit that I’ve had a few slices myself and it is delicious – especially toasted with a good thick slab of cool salted butter.
355g plain wholemeal flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons ground mixed spice
1 large egg
Preheat oven to 200 C and dust a baking sheet with flour
Sift the flour into a large bowl, add the bran from the sieve, stir in the bicarbonate of soda, mixed spice and raisins. (Ella’s recipe specifies chopping the raisins but I left them whole for ease).
Whisk together the buttermilk and egg in a jug, then stir into the dry ingredients. Using a fork and then your hands, mix together to make a dough. Tip the dough onto a floured work surface, divide into two pieces and knead each to form into flattened round loaves. Make sure the surfaces are completely smooth.
Place the loaves on the baking sheet, sprinkle over a little flour and make a cross-shaped cut halfway into the loaves. bake for 30 minutes or until risen and golden. Cool on a wire rack.
*It would be nice to experiment with other dried fruits or possibly some finely chopped nuts, a friend made a fig and hazelnut loaf for me recently which was delicious.