I have been intending to make a soda bread ever since baking one on Nina Oortman‘s brilliant bread making class. (You can read the post I wrote about that class – Bread Angel – Nina Oortman by clicking on the link.) I’ve mulled over different flavour combinations and wondered if my temperamental oven would render the bread inedible. I finally took the bull by the horns and made one, lightly perfumed with rosemary and scattered through with mixed peel, dried cranberries and sunflower seeds. It was very nice indeed. Lovely with a piece of cheddar as an after school snack.
Soda breads are so quick and easy to make – they are made without yeast and don’t require any kneading either. In fact, the less the dough is handled, the better. One has to work quickly as the baking soda starts to react pretty much straight away with the buttermilk so I wasn’t able to stop and take photos of the process this time. It will work with all sorts of different combinations of ingredients, sun dried tomato and feta cheese; cheddar and spring onion; raisin and cinnamon, chopped olives and mozzarella…
Buttermilk – The name conjures up bucolic images of metal canisters of rich creamy milk at the barn door full of fat globules of yellow butter floating in it. Buttermilk is nothing of the sort. Originally it was used to describe the whey that was left behind after butter had been churned from cream. Today it is made from pasteurised skimmed milk to which a culture of lactic acid bacteria added. The lactic acid works on fermenting the lactose, ( the main sugar in milk) decreasing the PH which causes the milk to clabber or get thicker and taste sour. 100ml contains 59 kcals, 0.1 g of fat, 7.8g sugar, 8.8g carbohydrate and 5.5g protein which is quite respectable. Buttermilk is often used with baking soda as a raising agent as the acid activates the bicarbonate to produce carbon dioxide, thus producing pockets of air in baked goods like scones, pancakes and soda bread. It is wonderful for tenderising chicken in a marinade and making salad dressings too.
If you come across any shops with Polish groceries, then look for Maslanka in the dairy section, which is the Polish name for buttermilk.
Fruited Soda Bread with Sunflower Seeds and Rosemary
Adapted from Nina Oortman’s Bread Angel Baking Class
- 250g strong white or plain flour (not self raising)
- 1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda (or baking soda)
- 1 tsp salt
- 50 g mixed peel
- 50 g dried cranberries
- 25 g pumpkin seeds
- 1 tsp finely chopped rosemary needles
- 300 g buttermilk (or full fat milk with lemon juice)
- Preheat oven to 200C/400F and line a good solid baking tray with parchment.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt until it is well mixed and aerated.
- Gently stir in the dried fruit, seeds and rosemary.
- Make a well in the middle of flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk.
- Using a dinner knife, cut in as quickly and gently as you can until all the buttermilk has been absorbed and you have a scraggy dough. Do not over mix or your loaf will be tough.
- Scrape the dough onto the prepared tray and shape into an oval or a round. Using a serrated knife, slash a deep cross through it. This helps with heat distribution but tradition has it that it was to let the devil out! Sprinkle a little flour over the top.
- Bake for 30 – 40 minutes depending on how hot your oven is. The loaf should sound hollow when you tap the base.
- Delicious warm and best enjoyed on the day it is made.
© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
If you are in or around Malvern and want to learn how to make this and yeasted breads, Nina has added another bread making class to the roster – click on the link for more information or if you would like to book yourself in – http://www.ninasbakery.co.uk/classes.html