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
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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

Goats’ Cheese, Onion and Potato Bread with Thyme

SO_0212_Leiths_Bread

Photo by Stuart Ovenden

I had a big birthday recently. Ok, so it was two years ago recently. Knowing full well my passion for food, my dissatisfaction with my job and my hive inducing reaction to big changes in my life, my dear friends N and J sent me on a food styling course at Leith’s Food and Wine in west London in the hopes that I might find a truer calling and stop the whining I was subjecting them to.

It was an amazing experience run by the lovely Sarah Cook, Deputy Food Editor of BBC Good Food magazine. One of our first tasks was to try and recreate the “money shot” on a ready meal using a pack of M&S lasagne. Well that was an eye opener. In the UK, one cannot use more food in the photo than is in the ready meal itself. So in order to make the lasagne look fuller as in the pack photo, the pasta was separated from the ragout and the sauce as best as we could manage. Then paper towels were scrunched up and strategically centred on the pasta whilst filling in the edges with what now looked to be a terribly generous portion of ragout. Apparently, we could have used cardboard to level the floppy pasta sheets. We also got to make and style a Greek salad and a fruit trifle, using our own props, both of which were challenging! The course culminated with a professional photo shoot using food we had made. Sarah brought in some amazing props which she has been collecting, magpie like over the course of her career and we got to work with the uber talented Stuart Ovenden Food/Lifestyle Photographer & Deputy Art Editor, Good Food Magazine at BBC Worldwide.

I realised fairly early on in the course that placing bits of parsley with a set of tweezers was not for me – I like a more natural finish which is not to say that I don’t appreciate a beautifully styled shot – I just don’t have the patience for it and can drive myself to distraction agonising over which berry should be at the front of the shot. So when it came time to decide what to make for the shoot I remembered a Delia Smith bread recipe that I had earmarked from a long time ago and thought I would give it a try. I mean, why make something I had tried before right? Luckily I had had some sort of foresight to buy extra chèvre because of course the first loaf, delicious as it was, looked a complete and hideous mess. The second one turned out beautifully but as I was now running late, I had to pack it (and its ugly older sister), still warm, loosely wrapped in its parchment paper into a basket along with some props which I thought we could use and schlep across London on Sunday public transport to the school. The Tube has never smelt so delicious as I sat there pretending that it had nothing to do with me!

The ugly sister

The ugly sister

Second loaf prior to baking

Second loaf prior to baking

My photo of the second loaf

My photo of the second loaf

I fretted all the way there worrying that I had done something too basic – it wasn’t even a yeasted bread…and when I got to the shoot, my worst fears were confirmed. One person had prepared a trio of beautiful tarts complete with chocolate decorations. Another had made a meze of three or four Lebanese dishes – from scratch. Someone else  had caramelised a pear and made a ginger pudding with chocolate sauce…a fourth was doing some fantastic wizardry with a sugar candy machine to make candy floss “ice cream” cones.

I sheepishly laid out my props on one of the tables and pulled out the loaf , smoothing out the parchment paper to let it finish off cooling.  Sarah came over and said how wonderful it smelled and looked, Stuart came over, smiled and asked if he could have a piece of the ugly sister to eat and went back to shooting and before I knew it, most of the ugly sister had been eaten by people coming over to take a look. Still feeling a little sheepish when it was my turn I hesitantly took it over to the table where Stuart was working. He practically snatched it out of my hands and told me that he wanted to shoot it as it was, on the parchment it had been baked in and transported on and that props really would not be necessary as it was such a beautiful thing on its own.  I was speechless. Can I tell you that I’m ridiculously proud that he included it on his gorgeous blog appledrane, here some time later?

Below are some of the images that were shot on the day. Aren’t they gorgeous?

Leiths2

Leiths1

Looks aside, this is a really delicious bread, which smells wonderful. It is quick as no yeast is involved and goes well with a soup or with cold cuts. Yet another good candidate for a picnic.

GOAT'S CHEESE, ONION AND POTATO BREAD WITH THYME

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Adapted from Delia Smith
Makes one delicious loaf which will serve 4-6 people

INGREDIENTS

  • 180g log of firm goats cheese (chèvre)
  • 4 spring onions finely sliced
  • 1 spring onion coarsely sliced for the top
  • 175g (approx) red potato which is about a medium one
  • 1 generous Tbsp of chopped thyme leaves as well as a couple of sprigs for the top
  • 175g self raising flour plus a little more to sprinkle on the top
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tbsp (30ml) milk
  • 1 heaped tsp of grain mustard

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius.
  2. Lay a piece of parchment paper on a sturdy baking tray and butter a 6 inch loaf shaped area onto it.
  3. With a sharp knife, remove the rind as best as you can from the chèvre. Don’t worry if there are a few bits left on here and there. Then slice it into half inch cubes. Set aside about a 1/3 for the top.
  4. Sift the flour, salt and cayenne pepper into a bowl. I have found that I can get the same effect by putting all the ingredients into a bowl and using a balloon whisk to mix and aerate it.
  5. Peel the potato and coarsely grate it into the flour mixture. Tip in the finely sliced spring onions and 2/3’s of the cheese and mix it all together with a palette knife.
  6. Gently whisk the egg with the milk and mustard, then pour the mixture onto the dry ingredients. Using the palette knife, Bring it all together to a form a loose, rough dough.
  7. Tumble it onto the buttered parchment paper on the baking sheet and gently form it into a 6 inch (15 cm) rough loaf. Lightly press the rest of the cheese over the surface as well as the coarser chopped spring onion. Dust with a little flour and scatter over the small sprigs of thyme.
  8. Bake the bread on the middle shelf of the oven for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown. Remove it to a cooling rack and serve it still slightly warm if possible.

Makes one delicious loaf which will serve 4-6 people

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013. 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.