Fruited Soda Bread with Sunflower Seeds and Rosemary

fruited-soda-bread-with-rosemary

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.

fruited-soda-bread-with-rosemary

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.

fruited-soda-bread-with-rosemary

Polish Buttermilk

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-rosemary

fruited-soda-bread-with-rosemary

fruited-soda-bread-with-rosemary

fruited-soda-bread-with-rosemary

Fruited Soda Bread with Sunflower Seeds and Rosemary

  • Servings: 1 loaf
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Adapted from Nina Oortman’s Bread Angel Baking Class

INGREDIENTS

  • 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)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 200C/400F and line a good solid baking tray with parchment.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt until it is well mixed and aerated.
  3. Gently stir in the dried fruit, seeds and rosemary.
  4. Make a well in the middle of flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes depending on how hot your oven is. The loaf should sound hollow when you tap the base.
  8. 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

fruited-soda-bread-with-rosemary

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Seeded Spelt Crackers

Seeded Spelt CrackersNigel Slater is one of my favourite food writers. In addition to a plethora of really, really good cook books, he also writes for the Observer Magazine and the Observer Food Monthly Supplement. His food is intuitive, uncomplicated and unpretentious with fabulous flavour.  When I first returned to work, his “Real Fast Food”  and “Real Food” are what I read at bedtime to prime myself for the evenings to come so that I could still have people over for supper and not go into a complete meltdown in the process. “Appetite” remains one of my most referred to books and “Kitchen Diaries” still helps to inspire when I am feeling as jaded and uninspired as stale cracker…

Seeded spelt crackers

Speaking of which, I watched him make these spelt crackers on catch-up television the other day and shortly after, found myself in Whole Foods where you can buy tiny (or huge) scoops of flours, rice, pulses, seeds and nuts from their bulk bins. I had already looked up and saved the recipe to Pepperplate so all that was left to do was to look it up on my phone and  buy what was needed.  The seeded spelt crackers are dry, crumbly and nutty from the seeds – perfect with a bit of blue or creamy cheese after dinner.

Seeded spelt crackers

Spelt is a truly ancient grain which can be traced as far back as the 5th millennium BC. It has a nutty and slightly sweet flavour and can be helpful for people who are wheat intolerant but not coeliacs as it does contain gluten. I have used the flour to make delicious pancakes in the past (substituting half of the flour with spelt) and it can be used in cakes and biscuits as well.

Do have a go at these crackers – they really are delicious!

Seeded Spelt Crackers

Seeded Spelt Crackers

  • Servings: 24
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Barely adapted from Nigel Slater’s Dish of the Day – Savoury Biscuits 

INGREDIENTS

  • 90g spelt flour
  • 15g  golden linseeds
  • 15g  pumpkin seeds
  • 15g  sesame seeds
  • 15g sunflower seeds
  • 50g soft butter
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • flaky sea salt to sprinkle

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre heat oven to 180C/350F and prepare your baking sheet by laying some greaseproof paper on it.
  2. Place the flour and seeds in a bowl and whisk to combine.
  3. Stir in the butter with a wooden spoon or just use your hands to rub the butter into the flour/seed mix until it is evenly distributed.
  4. Sprinkle on the one tablespoon of water and use your hands to start bringing the dough together, adding the second tablespoon of water as you go.  You should end up with a nubbly ball of dough.
  5. Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for at least an hour or overnight. It will be quite hard when you retrieve it so let it warm up a bit before trying to roll it out.
  6. Place the dough between two sheets of grease proof paper or cling film and roll out quite thinly. The original recipe says as thick as a pound coin but I rolled the dough much thinner than than – more like a 5p coin.
  7. Using a 2 inch pastry cutter or a wine glass (any thin glassed vessel will do..) stamp out rounds – I managed to get 24, re-rolling the scraps a couple of times.
  8. Place rounds on the prepared baking sheet – they don’t spread very much so you can place them quite close together – and sprinkle with a little salt.
  9. Bake for about 10 minutes, checking after 8 minutes. They are ready when they look golden brown.
  10. Remove to a wire rack to cool and store in an airtight tin.

Seeded Spelt Crackers