I know , I know. I said I was going to get back to blogging earlier in the year but between moving house, setting up a new kitchen for Hey Pesto! and my involvement in the inaugural Harvest Offaly Food Festival it just didn’t happen.
So here it is – my first blog post in months and I’m starting with an easy one! Earlier in the year Helen from Failte Ireland asked the food champions for an Irish recipe with a ‘modern twist’ and this was mine.
My Nana was famous for her soda bread, well within our family anyway and there’s enough of us! Everyday she made two loaves in her Aga . Always two, never any more than two and to paraphrase an ad ‘when it was gone, it was gone’.
I asked her once for the recipe and she told me ‘a handful of this and a handful of that’. If I’d had the sense at the time I’d have measured the size of her hands! I’m still trying to recreate the taste of her bread and apparently I have come close once or twice though I think the real difference is that she used unpasteurized milk straight from the cow that my great uncle kept in the orchard, that was allowed to go sour naturally (the milk not the cow!)
The great thing about soda bread is that you can add flavours – such as pesto or sundried tomatoes or even chocolate chips for a sweet cake.
In this version of soda bread I have added wild garlic pesto and dried wild garlic leaves to give the taste of summer. I also use spelt flour, an ancient relative of modern wheat, which I think gives a better, lighter loaf
What you need:
- 450g/1 lb. white spelt flour
- 1 level teaspoon salt
- 1 level teaspoon bread soda
- 340-400 ml / 12-14 fl.oz approx buttermilk
- 1 tbsp wild garlic pesto
- 1-2 tsp dried wild garlic leaves
What you do:
- Preheat oven to 230ºC/Gas 8
- Mix all dry ingredients in large bowl, making sure that you sieve in the bread soda.
- Add in the wild garlic pesto and the dried leaves if you have them ( dry them overnight in a very low oven when in season and store in an airtight jar).
- Make a well in the centre and pour in most of the buttermilk at once. The exact amount of buttermilk can vary, even according to the weather!
- Stir in the liquid until completely mixed but be very careful not to overmix.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured board and gently form into long ‘loaf’ shape. I know a circle is more acceptable but this is the shape my grandmother always used and it makes cutting the bread much easier!
- Place the loaf on lined baking sheet. Score a deepish line down the centre and prick the sides to let the fairies out.
- Bake in a hot oven for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 180ºC/Gas 4 for another 15-20 mins, or until just cooked.
- Tap the bottom of the bread; if it is cooked it will sound hollow. Cool on wire rack and eat as soon as possible!
- Perfect with soup or with as a base for bruschetta
I’m not sure if Nana would approve of the garlic but it went down very well here.
If you don’t have wild garlic pesto or if you just fancy a plain white soda then leave it out.
Give it a try – you’ll be amazed at how quick and easy it is to make your own bread.