This is a brilliant recipe from the fabulous Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. I love his no-nonsense approach to cooking and his recipes are simple and therefore fail-safe. I wanted to bake a different kind of bread to accompany the curried parsnip soup we were having for supper recently, rather than rely on the everyday wholemeal that we have day in, day out. Soda bread is incredibly quick and easy to make, it's sustaining and it lends itself to endless tweaking and variation. For a sweeter twist, just serve with lashings of butter and jam, or, you could add some dried fruit and have yourself a delicious fruit bread!
500g plain white flour
2 tsps bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp fine sea salt
a little milk if necessary
Makes 1 medium loaf
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degs C/190 degs C fan/gas mark 6
2. Sift the flour and bicarb into a large mixing bowl and stir in the salt. Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk, stirring as you go. If necessary, add a tablespoon or two of milk to bring the mixture together. It should form a soft dough, just this side of sticky.
3. Tip it out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly for about a minute, just long enough to pull it together into a loose ball but no longer - you need to get it into the oven while bicarb is still doing its thing. You are not looking for elasticity.
4. Put the round of dough onto a lightly floured baking sheet and dust generously with flour. With a sharp knife, mark a deep cross cutting about two-thirds of the way down the loaf.
5. Put it in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath.
6. Cool on a wire rack if you like a crunchy crust, or wrap in a clean tea towel if you prefer a soft crust. Soda bread is best eaten warm, but it's great toasted if you have some left over the next day. Enjoy!
This recipe comes from River Cottage Every Day by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall