I’d like to apologise for the absence of much new content recently. I’m currently rushed off my hobbit-ish feet by the process of packing up my Oxford life to return to Liverpool next week. While work are generously looking to push back my start date, I’m desperately trying to stockpile enough money to survive until my first payday and also to find somewhere to live. Because this is the biggest problem, I don’t have anywhere to live at the moment and whilst this has been amusing for the last couple of weeks, it’s now getting less amusing and more frightening.
All of this coupled with not having any internet at home and not being around a computer as much makes for rather dull days on The Girl with the Wooden Spoon. However, all is not lost. Because I thought I would add a bread recipe that, although not the Sourdough as promised, is suitable for those wanting to make bread who are also time challenged!
You could add anything to this bread such as seeds, nuts, cheese, bacon, mustard or onions. It’s based on the Rachel Allen Soda Bread from the Ballymaloe Cookery School and whilst she annoys me on the television (sorry), she’s like Delia in that her baking works first time every time. Unlike certain bakeries I have come across who are currently explaining to everyone constantly that if you follow the recipes they work but I followed them, I can cook and they still didn’t. Rant over.
The bread is lovely, best when still warm, and super quick. It has quite the flavour of a really large scone but it was very nice and perfect for whipping up for homemade soup or to go with a fishy starter.
Ballymaloe Soda Bread
450g (1lb) plain flour
1 level tsp caster sugar
1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
350-425ml (12-15fl oz) buttermilk or sour milk (To make this I warm the milk in a small saucepan, squeeze in the juice of a lemon, cool the milk and leave overnight. It will look a little like watery cottage cheese but it’s right. Buttermilk is the milk left over once the butter has been removed so it’s thin and rather sour.)
1. Preheat the oven to 230°C (425°F), Gas mark 8.
2. Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. 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.
3. 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. (This is to let out the evil pixies or to help the bread cook through, whichever you prefer!)
4. Place on a baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, then turn down the heat to 200°C (400°F), Gas mark 6 and cook for 30 minutes more. When cooked, the loaf will sound slightly hollow when tapped on the base and be golden in colour. Rachel Allen says that she will often turn it upside down for the last 5 minutes of cooking.
5. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
Rolled before cutting a cross in the top
The finished article!