For the last five weeks, I have dedicated most of my baking time to mastering the right techniques for baking bread, as it was a skill I felt I was lacking. My mission coincided with the start of Paul Hollywood's new TV series 'Bread', and each week I have reviewed the episode, and attempted to bake at least one of the loaves featured, with varying results! I am skipping an episode in my write ups here, as episode four covered sourdoughs, and work commitments have prevented me from starting to grow my starter culture, however rest assured when I get back from Belgium this weekend this will be the second thing to do on my list (after giving Gary a big hug of course!).
So, brushing past sourdoughs for now, episode five of the show was dedicated to soda breads, known by bakers it seems as 'the easiest of the breads'. The main thing to know about soda breads is that they vary from most other forms of bread due to the fact that they don't contain any yeast, the raising agent instead being bicarbonate of soda - hence the name. The magic occurs within soda bread due to the combination of lactic acid, found in buttermilk, and the soda reacting to form carbon dioxide, which in turn creates the bubbles that texture the loaf. This chemical reaction is instantaneous, which negates the need to knead and prove the dough as with yeast-based breads, therefore soda bread is a great option for when time is short.
As with previous episodes, I have used Paul Hollywood's recipe, however this week for a couple of reasons I have had to make a few substitutions. Mostly this was down to not being able to purchase the correct ingredients in my local supermarket, and as I fear this may be a common problem depending on where you live and/or shop, I am going to share my amended version of the recipe, to show you how substitutions can be made. If you want Paul's original recipe you can find it here.
The two main changes I made here were substitutions for not being able to find either plain wholemeal flour, or buttermilk in the supermarket. To compensate for the plain wholemeal, I used a self raising wholemeal flour, and halved the amount of bicarb of soda, as the SR flour already contains a rising agent. To compensate for not having buttermilk, I mixed normal milk with sour cream and a little lemon juice, which together creates the same properties as buttermilk. Here's my version of the soda bread recipe;
250 grams plain flour
250 grams wholemeal self raising flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
150 ml sour cream
270 ml semi-skimmed milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees, and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. In a large mixing bowl, sift both the flours together, add the salt and the bicarb of soda, and combine. In a jug, mix together the milk, sour cream and lemon juice together and set aside for a few minutes. Then, gradually add the fluids to the flour mix, stirring with a wooden spoon, to form a dough. Tip the dough out onto a floured surface, and bring the dough together into a ball without kneading it as this will prevent the bicarb from doing it's thing.
Shape the dough into a ball, and then pat it down to form a flat-ish round. Transfer onto the lined baking tray, and using a sharp knife cut into four sections. Leave the four sections in one full round, as they will join together as the loaf bakes.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until golden in colour, and hollow sounding when tapped on the base. I checked my loaf a little too early here, and one of my sections broke off as I moved it, as the dough was still sticky in the centre. Once the loaf is cooked, remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack to cool.
Taking inspiration from Monday's episode of 'Bread' I decided to turn my first ever loaf of soda bread into a Welsh Rarebit for our lunch. I started again with Paul's recipe as a base, but made a few adjustments based on ingredients and our own tastes. Paul's recipe is here, or mine is below... (pick mine!)
120 ml semi-skimmed milk
1 tablespoon plain flour
200 grams grated mature cheddar
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
90 grams bread crumb (roughly two slices)
1 egg yolk
Heat the milk in a saucepan until it starts to boil. Add the flour and whisk well, making sure there are no lumps of flour in the mixture. Continue to whisk over the heat until the mixture starts to thicken a little. Add the grated cheese, and again whisk in, until the cheese has melted and forms a sauce. Add the mustard powder and the worcestershire sauce, and stir well. Add the breadcrumbs, and mix in thoroughly, the mixture will start to thicken to a paste, and will ball up in the pan. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, and set aside.
Cut slices from the soda bread loaf, and place under a grill to toast one side. Whilst the bread is toasting, take the cheese mixture, add the egg yolk and beat together.
Remove the bread from under the grill, turn each slice over, and spread the cheese mixture thickly over each piece. Return to the grill, and cook for 4-5 minutes until the mixture is bubbling and starting to colour. Remove, and serve hot.
I am entering this post into this week's Made with Love Monday feature hosted over at Made w/ Luv by Javelin Warrior, as the whole meal was made totally from scratch, including the bread.