Baking bread. It's been on my to-do list for ages and ages. Not only is fresh bread the best smell ever, but I always think it would be such a useful skill if you were trying to sell your house. You know, that old real estate advice about baking bread and brewing coffee. And I'm probably one of those people who would fall for it, hook, line and sinker.
This recipe had less of the scary yeast factor than most (doesn't yummy sourdough just sound like the most complicated waiting game ever...?) so I thought it would be perfect for a first time. Not only that, but it's a free form loaf, no specialist tins required.
I found this one in Heidi Swanson's lovely book, Super natural every day.
Half way through this book I realised that she is vegetarian - and that is a huge compliment. Nothing feels like a meal that is meat-free, just beautifully matched ingredients that were meant to be. I loved reading her food philosophy - she makes living as a vegetarian sound so obvious and easy, achieving both a healthy balance and amazing flavours. wow.
Soda bread is something that was readily available growing up in England. It makes the most beautiful toast, nutty and wholesome, and perfect with a touch of good quality butter and nothing more. I've recently had my love of soda bread re-awakened with a great stall at the Manly organic markets on Saturday mornings. Make sure you get there early!
275g rye flour
225g plain flour, plus more for kneading and dusting
1 3/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp fine-grain sea salt
2 cups (475ml) buttermilk, plus more for brushing
Pre-heat the oven to 205 degrees celsius.
Sift the flours, baking soda and salt together into a large bowl. Then pour in the buttermilk and mix until everything is just combined. I used my kitchenaid dough hook here - but it's not essential.
Turn onto a floured worktop and knead for 30 seconds, until the dough is even.
Place the dough on a baking tray covered in baking paper. Brush the loaf with buttermilk and then sprinkle with about 2 tablespoons of flour.
Slash the loaf two thirds of the way through on four sides - but do not cut the whole way through.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes, then move the bread to the top rack for another 20 minutes. When done the bread with be crusty on the outside and be hollow-sounding.
Cool on a wire rack, and enjoy with lots of good quality butter.