I learned to make bread before anything else. At the age of 13 or so, I loved to bake bread. It was all done by hand and it was all made with cakes of fresh yeast. Fresh yeast is one of the finest ingredients in the world. The smell and texture is other-worldly. The results are nothing short of miraculous.
I no longer make bread by hand. This sad turn of events dates back to the light-bulb moment when I realized that the formerly reviled bread-machine (and Karl is one of the few people that I know who likes to use powdered milk in his bread!) could be utilized to do the laborious work of mixing and kneading and then jettisoned in favor of baking in the oven.
Eventually, I acquired a 20 gallon Hobart, commercial, mixer and made bread for a living six days a week. I can honestly say that I miss that mixer!
Every now and again, I have a “hankering” for warm bread, but lack the time and patience – and, sometimes ingredients – to make it. That is when I turn to an old family stand-by, Soda Bread. This is a quick, simple, no-kneed recipe with small number of ingredients. Because this has no yeast, there is no waiting time. The entire thing – from the moment that you crave warm bread to the time you slather a slice in butter and raise it to your lips – can be executed in less than an hour.
2 Cups plain wholemeal flour
2 Cups plain white flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
1.75 Cups Buttermilk
Extra flour for dusting
No one that I know keeps buttermilk in hand. My favorite substitution is to use 1 TB of Lemon Juice per Cup of Milk. You may also use plain white vinegar in place of the lemon juice.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix together the two types of flour, baking powder and salt. Add the buttermilk and mix until a sticky dough forms.
Lightly flour a work surface and tip the dough onto it.
Gently roll and fold the dough a couple of times to bring the mixture together. Do not knead. Shape the dough into a ball.
Flatten the ball gently with your hand. Score the dough with a deep cross dividing it into quarters. Dust the bread with flour.
Place onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment and bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. The loaf should be golden-brown.
Leave to cool on a wire rack.
This is best eaten on the day of baking.