The intention was to make some soda bread as a nod to St. Patrick’s day but I got completely and utterly sidetracked by Dan Lepard’s Saturday recipe in the Guardian for carrot and sesame bread. The recipe is a normal bread recipe (strong white flour, yeast, warm water) but with the addition of two grated carrots, a handful of sesame seeds and the juice of about one and a half oranges. The orange juice is there to provide some vitamin C, with actual scientific purpose this time rather than in a vain attempt to avoid a cold. Vitamin C is used as an additive in bread making since it helps in the gluten producing process, making a stretchier dough which should help the mixture to rise. Boy does it, I have never made such a successful loaf. It rose when it was supposed to and turned out in a real bread shape, with a lovely springy texture, perfect for sandwiches during the week. There’s a slight hint of carrots but nothing too sweet and the sesame seeds add a good crunch. Highly recommended.
I did get round to my soda bread too, because this is the easiest bread in the world to make, no pesky yeast or kneading or rising. Just four ingredients; flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda and buttermilk (it’s the reaction between the last two which creates carbon dioxide which makes this bread rise).
There’s been some debate between the Irish men and women of my acquaintance as to what soda bread actually is, whether it should be a wholegrain loaf full of roughage or a lighter, white, fluffy entity. I’ve aimed for the latter here, using all plain flour but it turned out a bit more rough and ready. To make you mix 450g of flour, a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of bicarb and stir in 400ml of buttermilk by hand. Then shape into a round loaf sort of shape, cut a cross in the top (to let the devil out. There’s science for you.) and bake on a floured tray for 15 minutes at a high temperature (240C) before lowering the temperature and cooking for another 30 minutes (200C).
We had ours with a delicately green soup and next to some daffodils in a desperate pretence that it is actually spring time.