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Soda Bread, To Be Sure


K M from Rostov, Russia asks:

"How can I make a soft, light bread, but without yeast itself?"

My reply:

"This recipe has never let me down. If you want a fast and easy homemade bread recipe with a good texture and a delicious tangy flavour, this is the one for you. Because it contains no yeast, this bread is best made and consumed on the same day. The quantity makes one loaf."

soda bread:

Buttermilk Soda Bread

2 cups, about 300g (11 ounces) unbleached plain flour,

2 cups, about 300g (11 ounces) wholemeal (whole wheat) plain flour,

½ teaspoon cream of tartar,

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda,

1 teaspoon sea salt,

2 cups buttermilk (or some sort of cultured or sour milk),

sea salt flakes.

Preheat the oven to 220° C / 425° F. Lightly flour a baking tray.
Sift the flours, cream of tartar, bicarbonate of soda and sea salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre of the mixture.

Pour in almost all the buttermilk, then stir with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined. Feel the dough. It should be slightly sticky. If too dry, add the remaining buttermilk. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface.

Gently knead the dough for 1 minute (do not over knead).

Shape the dough into a round and place on the prepared baking tray. Cut a 1.5cm (½-inch) deep cross into the dough and sprinkle with the sea salt flakes.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until golden and cooked through (test with a wooden skewer - if it comes out clean, it's done).

Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack. Allow to cool then cover with a dampened towel until required.

Serve: break off chunks or cut into slices.

Note: you can add nuts or dried fruit to this recipe.