Few things are more comforting than the smell of freshly baked bread and whilst I can't profess to be a master baker, this frugal soda bread recipe has the ability to lift my spirits time and time again.
It is absolutely delicious and better still, it requires very little effort yet it looks impressive. I promise you that anyone you share it with will feel loved when presented with this beautiful handmade loaf.
Soda bread, like most other breads, is cheap to make but the beauty of it is that you don't need specialist ingredients and it's very flexible so you can swap things out if you're missing one or two ingredients. All in all, it's a great recipe to have up your sleeve.
370g plain flour
130 plain wholemeal flour (but feel free to substitute with white flour if you haven't got wholemeal)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
40g melted butter
1tbsp of honey (or golden syrup, maple syrup, treacle... any sweetener as long as it's liquid)
340ml butter milk (or make your own with milk and lemon juice, I have also used natural and Greek yoghurt as a substitute)
1. Preheat the oven to Gas 6/ 200C
2. Put the flour, bicarb and salt into a large mixing bowl and combine, there is no need to sift. Make a hole in the centre and pour in the melted butter and honey (I like to mix these two together first) along with the buttermilk. Bring it all together into a sticky dough.
3. Tip the dough onto a lightly dusted work surface and knead just enough to shape the dough into a ball shape. I can't stress how important it is to use a light touch when bringing soda bread together. You must be careful not to overwork this dough or you will activate the gluten and it will become very heavy and tough to eat.
4. Place the dough on a baking tray and create the traditional cross of a soda bread loaf using a wooden spoon handle (TIP: dust lightly with flour first so it doesn't stick) push it down until you almost feel the baking tray at the bottom without actually cutting through the dough.
5. Lightly dust the top with flour and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until the bread has risen, is a nice golden brown and the dough inside where the cross was made isn't damp.
TIP: If you are not entirely sure the bread is cooked through but it looks a good colour, cover the bread with foil so the top doesn't burn and give it an extra 5 minutes in the oven.
6. Serve whilst still warm with lashings of butter and jam and a huge pot of tea.
It's also amazing eaten alongside homemade soups and stews and it freezes well although it never lasts that long in my house! I love to eat it toasted the next day.
If you decide to have a go at making my frugal soda bread recipe, make sure you tag me in your social media posts and if you have any recipes to share, get in touch, I'd love to hear from you!