Photo of a small piece of the soda bread, on a floral paper napkin

I didn’t expect to be writing a post about soda bread so I didn’t take a picture of the loaf. Only today, when I found that it was delicious when a day old I decided to post, by which time this was all that remained.

It is well-known that ‘Irish’ soda bread is good only on the day it is made, or so I have always understood (and that has been my experience). Consequently, I only made it when we had an ‘out of bread’ emergency, as yesterday, with no time to make a more conventional loaf (shop bought bread in the UK is not good, even in my opinion expensive ‘artisan’ loaves. I’ve been spoiled by German breads).

Because there are only two of us I always struggled to make a small enough quantity to eat on the same day (I hate discarding food but the birds were happy).

As Wednesday is one of our ‘veggie days’ we decided yesterday to eat an avocado each followed by ‘iahnie’ (pronounced, roughly, yak-nee-ay), a puree of butter beans for us but of the much larger ‘boabe’ (bwar-bay) beans in Romania, with bread. It’s usually flavoured with garlic, maybe other things like herbs.

No bread so I made a soda bread (but not the ‘real’ one as it calls for buttermilk, which I did not have). We ate it straight out the oven – the iahnie is cold. As usual we had some over so it was put in a bag, hot, still steaming when broken, with the idea of giving the birds a feast today. But, guess what, it was soft and absolutely delicious today when we ate it for our lunches. Poor birds!

Here’s the recipe I made:

250g wholemeal bread flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
200 ml full-fat milk
Juice of a lemon
1 tsp honey

Mix the dry ingredients well in a bowl. Pour the lemon juice into the milk (it’s magic!). Stir in the honey till dissolved. Make a well in the flour etc, pour in the ‘artificial buttermilk’ and mix with a spatula till the ‘dough’ is ‘together’. Shape into a round loaf, put on a floured baking tray (I use coarse semolina), cut a deep cross in the top and put in the oven preheated to 180degC (that’s my fan oven; I guess 200degC for ‘conventional’ oven). Bake for 30 minutes or till it sounds hollow when rapped on the bottom.

Note. This made a very ‘sloppy’ dough, difficult to handle and shape, so next time I’d add a bit more flour.

 

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When I saw Tanya’s picture of her ‘grandma’s bread’ I thought it looked delicious. When I read her post I was surprised, the recipe broke all the usual rules of baking bread (eg no proving, put in a cold oven, etc) so I just had to try it even though I’d said in a post shortly before that I’d settled on my recipe for bread.

I’ll not give Tanya’s recipe here, you will find it on her blog (link at the end). You’ll even learn the Norwegian for grandma. So just some comments.

Sorry, this is not my attempt at Tanya’s grandma’s bread; Petronela deleted it 😱. You’ll just have to believe me that mine look pretty much as the picture on Tanya’s post. This pic is my usual bread.

Sorry, this is not my attempt at Tanya’s grandma’s bread; Petronela deleted it 😱. You’ll just have to believe me that mine look pretty much as the picture on Tanya’s post. This pic is my usual bread.

The closest thing I know to it is Irish soda bread though that uses bicarb of soda not yeast. I make this, usually for Sunday breakfast when we’ve run out of bread and I’ve ‘forgotten’ to make any. It’s delicious and very quick and easy to make but the disadvantage is that you must eat it more or less immediately. Even the next day it’s not good.

Tasty – and tastier

Tanya’s grandma’s bread is just the opposite. It seems to improve with age (I made it three days ago and so far it gets better and better). First it had a very hard crust when it came out of the oven; now it’s soft, but not tough and chewy which I don’t like. Secondly, although it tasted good when fresh it has tasted better with each passing day.

I didn’t have fresh yeast so I used quick dried yeast (1/4 of the quantity of fresh). I didn’t have sesame seeds so I chucked in a load of poppy seeds.

Finally I read (I think misread) Tanya’s recipe as having a quantity of milk with water, but then another 300ml of warm milk to which the yeast is added. This seemed too much liquid to me so I reduced the amount of milk/water by 300ml. It turned out OK so I think that is what she meant.

Final conclusion: very tasty, worth making for the taste. It didn’t seem to me to be much quicker or easier to make as mixing it (by hand) is a messy job and it takes an hour in the oven but I guess it will get quicker with practice. My ‘cheat’ of letting a breadmaker do the work before baking in the oven in my recipe is less hassle.

You’ll find Tanya’s recipe at

https://bakewitht.com/2017/09/17/bestemor-bread-quick-easy-to-make-great-for-the-kids/

I recommend you try it. Great for grown-ups too.