Seeded Soda Bread

I like bread. I really, really, like bread.

I like the smell, the taste, the way it looks. I like eating it, I like shopping for it (bakeries are truly wonderful places) and I like making it.

I don’t make it very often though, and the only thing that stops me from doing so is that it can be a massively time consuming task. Fortunately though this is not the case with soda bread.

Ah, yummy fluffy lovely soda bread!

Oh, and seeds, seeds are good too. It’s always a good idea to throw some of those in. Any kind of bready seeds will do, linseed, sesame and sunflower work particularly well.

No leaving anything to rise, no proving, no kneading, this is bread that can transform from a pile of ingredients to a hot loaf on the table in 45 minutes. The reason for this is a fantastic little chemical reaction between the lactic acid in buttermilk and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) which rapidly produces tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide, and makes for a quick rising bread.

Not only do you not need to knead or mess about with it too much, but you definitely shouldn’t. The longer it takes and the more mixing and kneading you are tempted to do, the worse the resulting bread will be.

This is simple and very easy, but that doesn’t make it impossible to get it wrong. You just need to pay attention to this list of things not to do:

  • DON’T use bread flour, it’s too ‘strong’ or heavy.
  • DON’T start making the dough until the oven is hot.
  • DON’T overmix the ingredients.
  • DON’T knead the dough.

Oh, and one more thing not to do. Should you choose to follow my recipe and use honey then do not use thick set honey, use something runny. The reason should be obvious to any vaguely intelligent person but that didn’t manage to stop me from screwing it up.

So, after all of that, here is a quick list of what you actually do have to do.

The things you’ll need…

  • Wholemeal flour – 450 g
  • Mixed seeds – 80 g
  • Baking soda – 1.5 tsp
  • Honey – 1 tbsp
  • Buttermilk – 450 ml

…and what do do with them

  1. Heat the oven to 200°C (395°F).
  2. Put the flour, seeds, baking soda and a pinch of salt into a large bowl and mix well, then make a hole or well in the middle that you will pour the liquid into in a minute
  3. In a separate container mix the buttermilk and honey and stir.
  4. Once the honey has dissolved (as much as it is going to) then pour the liquid into the centre of the dry ingredients and fold the flour mix into it using the flat blade of a knife or your fingers. Mix gently but quickly until all of the ingredients have formed into a soft sticky dough, and it will be sticky!
  5. Leave the dough for about 5 minutes and then tip it onto a floured surface (or just directly on the baking tray) and form it into a roughly round shape. At this point it is ready to go into the oven and you can just leave it as it is, but I like to slash a cross into the top with a sharp knife and sprinkle a bit of extra flour on the top.
  6. Put the bread into the middle of the hot oven and bake it for about 30 minutes, until it looks right and sounds hollow inside if you tap the bottom of the loaf.

That’s all there is to it. You should probably leave it to cool down just a little bit before cutting it or just ripping chunks off, but it’s tricky to keep your hands off of it.

Use it as you would any other bread. I like to eat it while it’s still warm either with plenty of butter and a sprinkling of sea salt or with Rima’s homemade hummus, which she will be telling you how to make in the very near future.

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