It’s the antithesis of sourdough … no starters lurking in the fridge waiting to be fed, no slow fermentation methods, no stretching or kneading. All you need are a few basic ingredients, a bowl, a spoon, a tin and an oven. It’s bread making at its simplest.
Irish friends will probably be rolling their eyes and say they learned how to make it at their grandma’s knee, but for anyone who hasn’t tried it, it’s a winner.
If you want to get fancy you can add two or three tablespoons of seeds, chopped nuts or dried fruit to the mix (great with cheese) and/or sprinkle the top with rolled oats, but it’s good just as it is. I like it with a few slices of smoked salmon; with a big bowl of soup; or just toasted for breakfast with butter and apricot jam.
Unlike most soda breads this one, from a Paul Rankin recipe, is baked in a tin as the mix is runnier than usual. Once you add the buttermilk, get it in the oven as soon as possible as the bicarb, the raising agent, will start reacting with the liquid straight away.
If you don’t have buttermilk, substitute one tablespoon of lemon juice or white wine vinegar per 250ml of semi-skimmed or whole milk and let it stand for five minutes.
350g wholemeal flour
150g plain white flour
1 1/2 tspn bicarbonate of soda
1 1/4 tspn salt
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
Pre-heat oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.
Stir all the dry ingredients together, then stir in the buttermilk to form a dropping consistency.
Pour into a very well-greased 2lb/1kg loaf tin and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Turn out of the tin and cool on a wire rack for a crusty exterior or wrap in a tea towel for a softer loaf. Allow to cool before slicing, if you can hold off that long.