Soda Bread

Apparently my first foray into IG Stories of How-To with my wee wholemeal soda bread was very popular with you all, and I’m finally getting the recipe up here.

It’s been a bit of a crazy week for me with my office job being on a slightly different schedule than normal and having 2 training days.  I find those training days both a blessing and a curse, but that’s a chat for another day.

I’m definitely more of a baker than a cook so getting into the bread baking thing has long been on my list of things to do for many, many years, seriously, who hasn’t watched GBBO and thought they could totally do the amazing bread things that Paul Hollywood comes up with for the contestants to do!  Plus, let’s be honest here, bread is awesome and all things bread-like.  Not always great for the waste line, but soooooo good and such great comfort food.

Last year, I got myself a wee book off Amazon called simply How To Make BreadFabulous book, I was super excited and totally looking forward to making all the lovely things…then it hit me, most of them require yeast, which seriously intimidates me, and I have a teeny tiny kitchen, and really rotten cooker (the joys of living in rented accommodation).
So I’ve pretty much stuck with just making sodas, and these days, having some just-made soda with some jam and a cuppa is actually one of my simple joys that I look forward to.

What’s great about a soda is that it’s just so darn easy to make.  In fact you’d have it made, cleaned up, baked and out of the oven in about the same length of time it takes you to get in the car, drive to the shop, find it, get to check out, and get home.
I’ve come through my adult life buying a soda, usually on special occasions, because I didn’t know just HOW simple it is to make one, and it’s such a forgiving recipe and bread.

It’s 100% money saver too, as they’re so expensive to buy (£1.20 for a wee soda!!!), it’s saving the environment a little bit (no plastic tray, no plastic wrapping), the store bought soda has a whole big bunch of ingredients, some of which I can’t pronounce including the dreaded E numbers! AND WHO THE HECK PUTS FOOD COLOURING IN BREAD!!??  So making my own reassures me of what I’m eating…and as a woman on a mission to discover the secrets to solid and robust mental health, that’s kind of important.

But, I’m feeling a little more brave these days so I’m going make a promise to you to try out a bunch of other bread things and get back to you!

Ok, so what do you need for a good old Irish Wholewheat Soda?

Equipment

  • Bowl to mix in
  • Spatula or big spoon for mixing it all with
  • Cup/mug/something to measure with
  • Teaspoon
  • Baking tray / Circular bread tin / something over proof to put your bread mix on
  • Sharp knife

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of bread flour – I prefer wholemeal, but you can use plain if you want
  • 1 cup (and a bit for luck) of milk – most recipes will say butter milk, but I use semi-skim as that’s what I’ve got in the fridge
  • 1 tsp Bicarb Soda
  • Pinch of salt – I only have a grinder, so I just put a couple of wee grinds in, whatever works for you
  • Butter or oil – something to grease your baking pan with
    img_0731

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180C
  • Grease up whatever you’re using for the oven with whatever you’re using to grease it with.  I use a bit of olive oil and a wee brush because it’s just quicker and cleaner.
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  • Mix all the dry things together first in a mixing bowl.
    The bicarb can be a bit lumpy so make sure you get any lumps mushed out with your spoon or spatula or whatever you’re using
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  • When it’s all mixed, add in the milk and mix it all together.
    It’ll be quite sticky and horrid and look a bit wrong, and you’ll think you’ve not got enough of either milk or flour, but it’s fine!
    IMG_0726.jpg
  • Put a good shake of flour out on your worktop to drop the mixture on to so that you can shape it
    img_0727
  • Scrape it out onto your worktop and put another good shake of flour over the top – it’ll save your hands from getting covered in super sticky bread mix
    img_0729.jpg
  • Shape it into a circle, then gently pull it up and pop it onto whatever you’re using to bake it in. Don’t worry if it’s not a proper circular baking tin, it will actually hold the shape you’ve made it into – so even a rectangular flat baking sheet is fine!
  • Take a sharp knife and make a cross shape in the top of the loaf, not deep, just a wee bit across the top.  This will help control how the bread splits when it’s rising.
    img_0730.jpg
  • Pop it in the oven for about 12-15 mins.  You’ll know it’s done when you tap the top and it sounds hollow.
  • Take it off/out of whatever you’ve baked it on.  It should come away easily if you’ve greased the pan properly.  Then pop it on a wee wire rack or trestle to cool off a bit before you cut it!

Job done!

It will keep for a good few days, and I definitely recommend using some reusable food wrap – my favourite is Cling Cloth by Nth Turtle.
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Bringing some soup to work for lunch? Take a couple of slices with you, wrap it up in your cling cloth, have some small square of it and you can even bring your own butter with you too and have some serious joyful moments in work with your earth friendly, bank account saving, mental health supporting, home-made bread!

Or just enjoy the simple pleasure of it at home with some jam and some loose leaf Belfast Brew from Suki’s

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Happy baking, happy eating, let me know how you get on in the comments!

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