We’ll have to start by making a very humble admission: until just a few days ago, we had never made soda bread….
It’s not that we lack an interest in this topic. We’ve had several attempts at making different types of yeast bread, and achieved various levels of success with those. And we’re all huge fans of good bread in this household, with Chef Gerald displaying this amazing ability of instantly turning from a sweet cuddly baby birdie into a ferocious creature perfectly capable of shredding any obstacles – inanimate or otherwise, human fingers included – that stand between him and a slice of bread.
And it’s not that we haven’t come across several enticing recipes for soda bread, either. It’s just that there never seem to be enough hours in the day and days in the week for all the interesting baking projects we’d like to undertake, and this one kept getting postponed…. Until suddenly, it all made sense – we needed some bread in a hurry, and Mummy was in desperate need of a fun project at the end of a day when frustration levels were becoming increasingly difficult to keep in check.
The principles of soda bread are very simple: aided by the heat during baking, the acid in the buttermilk reacts with the baking soda, helping the bread rise without the need for yeast or long waiting periods. This bread is excellent toasted or served with a warming soup or stew. Depending on what you intend to serve it with, there are many variations of ingredients you can try, both savoury and sweet. This time we wanted a relatively plain loaf, so the only experimental feature was combining three types of flour.
Following Chef Gerald’s diligent flour sampling process, we were able to proceed with the recipe.
Kamut, Spelt and Whole Wheat Soda Bread (adapted from EatingWell
140g kamut flour
140g wholemeal spelt flour
280 g whole wheat flour
540ml buttermilk, plus a little extra for brushing
1 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
Pre-heat oven to 220 degrees Celsius. Line a baking sheet with baking paper and sprinkle with a little flour.
Sift the flour and baking soda in a mixer bowl.
Make a well in the centre, then pour the buttermilk in the well.
Knead with the dough hook attachment of your mixer for a few moments, until the dough comes together in a ball.
Tip onto a lightly floured surface and, using floured hands as well, shape the dough into a round loaf, about 4 – 5 cm thick – bear in mind that this will rise a lot during baking. Transfer to the baking sheet.
Brush the top of the bread with buttermilk, then sprinkle with some more flour. Using a serrated knife, score the bread with a 2 – 3 cm deep cross, then prick each quadrant with a fork or the tip of a sharp knife.
Bake at 220 degrees for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 200 degrees Celsius and continue baking for another 30 – 35 minutes, or until it sounds hollow when tapped and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.