I didn’t really ever consider the existance of ‘quick bread’ until that is, I saw last night’s episode of the Great British Bake Off. All of a sudden, the Saturday morning loaf might actually be ready by lunchtime…
Basic Soda Bread
Quick breads work by generating the lift gas due to the reaction of bicarb of soda and something acidic, usually buttermilk, in a hot oven. They don’t need to prove, and they ought not to be kneaded much, if at all. Here’s a basic bread as recommended by Bake Off judge Hollywood…
- Mix the flour, salt and bicarb in a bowl
- Add the buttermilk and bring together into a dough
- Tip dough onto a floured worktop and fold and roll to bring it into something workable, don’t knead.
- Form into a ball, flatten slightly, then make 2 deep cuts to criss cross the top
- Dust with extra flour and bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees C for half an hour
Of course, the question is, why have plain soda bread when you can have something flavoured? Here’s the list of (savoury) ones they did on Bake Off:
- Hazelnut and Fig. Using a mix of plain, wholemeal and rye flour
- Smoked salt and Mexican cheddar. Looked to have a few green jalapeños through the cut, and mixed through
- Mexican bread with a warm tomato salsa. Seemed to have fresh coriander and cumin in the bread, not sure what else, something with heat according to Berry.
- Walnut and stilton. Verdict was that she should have used chunks of stilton, rather than finely crumbling it. Full recipe here. Not sure how good it will be, she got kicked out!
- Fig, walnut and goats cheese. Looked amazing, possibly all wholemeal, mixed in fairly big chunks of cheese.
- Proscuitto, manchego and balsamic onion. This was the winner, also had basil, full recipe here.
- Wild Garlic Pesto. He used 00 flour, the wild garlic had plenty of greenery, wonder if he added anything else, bread looked quite yellow – parmesan perhaps?
- Smoked Bacon and Onion. Bacon looked like strips, couldn’t see if it was precooked. Presume so.
Unlike ‘normal’ bread, where extra flavours are typically added to the dough towards the end of the kneading, soda bread makers appear to mix them to the flour just before adding the buttermilk, I presume it makes them easier to distribute.
I also noticed that less ‘floury’ breads, such as the cheesy ones, received a coating of melted butter to finish them before serving.
If you prefer to shape your dough into an oval, then try diagonal cuts along the length.