I love making soda bread. It’s so simple and quick; unlike many bread recipes, which require hours of proving etc. This is definitely one for the inpatient baker… or the one who is short on time but still needs to get their baking fix!
I must credit ‘Little Loaf‘ for this recipe- a gorgeous flavour combination girl! Although I have made quite a few alterations to the original recipe.
Little Loaf’s recipe specifies the use of wholemeal bread flour and baking powder. Having made soda bread before, and embarking on some ‘google-tastic’ research, I found that the general advice is to use regular wholemeal flour and bicarbonate of soda for the rise (hence the name, soda bread). I found this advice page from The Guardian to be most informative on the subject of achieving the perfect Soda Bread, well worth a read:
I also decided to sprinkle my loaf with some sunflower seeds before baking, which I think adds an extra texture dimension and also gives the bread an even more pleasingly rustic appearance. My recipe uses dried thyme, instead of the fresh recommended by Little Loaf (no preference for dried, just my herb garden has simply ceased to exist after the parsley went wild and killed all my other poor defenceless little herbs 😦 another horticultural fail on my part!). Buttermilk was also substituted for natural yogurt in my version.
I loved the idea of using honey on top of the loaf to contrast the salty flavour of the feta- thanks Little Loaf! I used a pastry brush and coated the loaf when it just came out of the oven. It gives a lovely glossy finish which makes it look even more tempting!
Here is my recipe:
300g plain wholemeal flour
Big pinch sea salt
Generous 1tsp bicarbonate of Soda
100g feta cheese crumbled
1 tbsp dried thyme
Handful of sunflower seeds, for sprinkling
Honey for brushing
Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C and place a baking stone or tray in to heat up.
In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients. Add the buttermilk and mix together with your hands for about two minutes, until just combined.
Flour your hands and the work surface, tip out your sticky dough and shape it into a round. Place directly onto your baking stone (or tray) and cut a deep cross in the top of the dough. Sprinkle the top with the sunflower seeds.
Bake for about 25 minutes or until the crust is golden and the bottom sounds hollow when you tap it on the bottom.
Once the loaf is ready, brush the top with honey. Leave to cool on a wire rack before slicing and eating.