In a pinch, soda bread saves the day. It’s quite simple to make, requires only a few ingredients, and takes less than an hour start to finish. Basic white soda bread can be used as toast for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, a few slices with some romesco sauce as a snack. You can also build off the base recipe and start to have some fun. Here I am adding cinnamon, raisins and toasted walnuts to make a delicious breakfast loaf.
MAKES 1 LOAF
450g (1lb/4 cups) all-purpose flour
1 level tsp white granulated sugar
1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 cup toasted walnuts, finely chopped
1 cup raisins
350-425ml (12-15fl oz) buttermilk or sour milk
Preheat the oven to 425°F (230°C).
Place walnuts in a small pan on medium heat. Toss walnuts every few minutes to allow them to toast, but not burn. When walnuts are warm and lightly toasted, remove from pan and allow to cool. Finely chop.
Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add toasted walnuts and raisins. Make a well in the center. Pour in most of the buttermilk (leaving about 60ml/2fl oz in the measuring jug). Using one hand with your fingers outstretched like a claw, bring the flour and liquid together, adding more buttermilk if necessary. Do not knead the mixture or it will become heavy. The dough should be fairly soft, but not too wet and sticky.
When it comes together, turn onto a floured work surface and bring together a little more. Pat the dough into a round about 4cm (1½in) deep and cut a deep cross in it. Some say this tradition of cutting a cross in the top is to let the fairies out before baking.
Place on a baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, then turn down the heat to 400°F (200°C), and cook for 30 minutes more. When cooked, the loaf will sound slightly hollow when tapped on the base and be golden in colour.
Allow to cool on a wire rack. Serve warm with butter, honey or your favourite jam.