Now, if you’ve been following my Berry Project journey so far you will know that bread and I don’t necessarily see eye to eye. I don’t tend to have much luck with it. As hard as I try, 9 times out of 10 it ends up as some kind of disaster (and to varying degrees of edibility). I’m now into my second month of being furloughed and would like to see at least a degree of progress by the time lockdown eases and I return to work. So with this goal in mind, I thought I’d take on Irish Soda Bread.
What attracted me to this type of bread is that it requires no yeast. Yeast seems to be one of the factors in my bread catastrophes so the prospect of baking a loaf with no yeast was a definite plus – as well as the fact that yeast is still a rare commodity with the whole world creating bread creations and fermentation’s during this quarantine period! The ingredients list for Irish soda bread is also very short – it calls for strong white flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt, buttermilk and tepid water. Unlike other bread bakes I’ve tried, soda bread doesn’t need to rest or rise – you simply mix all the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl and then slowly add in the buttermilk and water until a very soft dough forms. From there, you turn the dough out onto a lightly flour-dusted surface and then shape it into a neat round of 18cm in diameter. Before popping the bread in the pre-heated oven you make a shallow cross on the top and then bake for about 40 mins (my oven runs a little hot so I always take off at least 5 minutes). As a result, it’s a really quick and easy bake to rustle up.
It’s by no means the prettiest of bakes – I think I was a little heavy-handed with the flour and so my loaf had a slightly shaggy exterior but it was soft and fluffy on the inside and was devoured within two days. Texture-wise, I think there are much more interesting breads out there to try and make but if you aren’t all that confident with bread (like me) then this particular Mary Berry recipe is a fool-proof way of producing a strong loaf of bread!