Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Nigel Slater´s Lazy Loaf


Usually, bread takes quite a while to make, what with waiting for the dough to rise, knocking it back and then waiting for it to rise again before baking it, but if you do not have that much time and are still looking for some instant gratification, this fabulous soda bread called Nigel Slater´s Lazy Loaf might just be right for you. It is the kind of bread that you tear a hunk off and dip into steaming bowl of soup, or eat stickily spread with local honey, or your favorite homemade jam. Soda bread is perhaps the easiest bread to make by hand - with little kneading and no waiting around for it to rise.




In general, a soda bread is a bread leavened with bicarbonate of soda together with an acid, either lactic acid in the form of buttermilk (as in this recipe) or yogurt or a chemical agent like cream of tartar. The resulting reaction releases carbon dioxide bubbles into the dough. Though simple soda breads were common throughout Britain up to the late 1960s, people now usually associate soda bread with Irish baking.




Soda bread is best eaten fresh and can be made at home easily. Typical ingredients not only include bicarbonate of soda and buttermilk or yoghurt, and sometimes cream of tartar, but also wheat flour, water, salt and butter.

This is a Nigel Slater recipe. Yes, we all seem to have a soft spot for this particular cook and pretty much everything of his that I have tried, works. And I have blogged about many of his recipes before, such as his amazing Carrot Cake (here), delightful Black Banana Cake (here), decadent Walnut, Chocolate and Honey Tart (here), and his absolutely outstanding Chocolate Beetroot Cake (here). to name but a few. I know he cannot lay claim to inventing soda bread, because that has existed for many years already, but he can ceratinly lay claim to bringing it back to my attention.




This is a very simple recipe. And Nigel Slater is a dedicated fan of straightforward yet awesome food, and somehow I am always enamored with his recipes and methods. And this recipe is no exception. I particularly like the idea of baking the loaf in a preheated cast iron casserole dish.




Nigel´s Lazy Loaf
(inspired by a recipe from Nigel Slater's Simple Suppers)

Ingredients for the Loaf
  • 225 grams plain wheat flour
  • 225 grams wholemeal flour 
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tbsp molasses (the original recipe calls for sugar, I used local sugar beet molasses)*
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 350 ml buttermilk (I used a really thick buttermilk from my fav farm shop)



Preparation
  1. Preheat the oven to 220 degress Celsius (425 degrees Fahrenheit)
  2. Put a large casserole dish** and its lid into the oven.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the flours, sea salt, molasses and bicarbonate of soda together with your fingers. Do get your hands in there and get it all properly mixed up.
  4. Pour in the buttermilk, bringing the mixture together as a soft dough. Work quickly as the bicarbonate of soda will start working immediately.
  5. Once the dough has come together and is not sticking to the bowl any more, shape the dough into a shallow round loaf about 4 centimeters (1½ inches) thick.
  6. Remove your hot casserole dish from the oven, dust the inside lightly with flour to prevent sticking then lower in the dough. Dust the top with a bit more flour. If you so desire, you can score a small cross in the top of the dough
  7. Then cover with the lid and return to the whole thing to the oven.
  8. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes. 
Remove from the oven and leave in place for 5 minutes before turning out and leaving to cool slightly before enjoying.
* NOTE: Molasses gives it an earthy taste, darkens the crumb and crisps up the crust
**NOTE:  I used my Pyrex Slow Cook Casserole Pan, round, 3.6 liter, cast stainless-steel




This bread  has a lovely, crisp crust and a very tender inside. The crumb looks dense, but it is not heavy at all.




Remember that soda breads like this are best when eaten fresh and while still a bit warm or, according to some of my taste testers, even better when toasted and slathered with really good quality butter - it just does not get better than enjoying a big slice with farm-fresh butter...So, make sure to serve it fresh from the oven with butter and your favorite kind of jam or honey. And  if you do have any left, it does in fact make good toast.




Nigel Slater´s recipe certainly proves that making your own bread does not have to be time-consuming or hard work. Looking for that instant bread gratification, that comforting smell of baking bread, that irrestible taste of homemade bread, then you should really try his quick soda bread, you will not regret it, trust me.



22 comments:

  1. I have a recipe coming up on my blog that uses easy bread--glad to see another recipe for one! I've never made soda bread before.

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    1. Dear Ashley, so very nice to hear from you - hope all is well! If you get a chance to make soda bread, try your hand at this recipe, it is easy, no-fuss and quite delicious.
      Thank you for your comment,
      Andrea

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  2. Hallo liebe Andrea,
    It's been a while since I've last visited and I am so delighted at your new recipes! Everything looks so delicious and beautiful. I think I'll stay here a while going through all of it! I really liked this bread recipe, because I am currently very interested in bread baking, but I am also stunned by your colourful caviar finger foods and your shoestring fries!
    Gibt's auch viele Schnee in Bonn? München ist jetzt ganz weiß - so schön, hier hätte ich nie so viele Schnee gesehen!
    Liebe Grüße,
    Ines

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    1. Liebe Inês, ja, wir hatten tatsächlich Schnee in Bonn. Die Kinder haben einen Schneemann gebaut, aber der ist inzwischen wieder verschwunden - geschmolzen. Es soll aber am Wochenende wieder kälter und schneeig werden, we shall see.
      Hope all is going well with your job and life and all - looking at the lovely pictures that you post on fb and your blog, life seems to be treating you well, schön!!!
      I will be over for comments in the next few days - thank you so much for stopping by for a comment - always, always love to hear from you!
      Ganz liebe Grüsse nach München,
      Andrea

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  3. I happen to love soda bread and have made Dorie's recipe the last few years. But I think I'll give this a whirl in the next week or two. Will let you know. I never worry about it getting stale. First, I can devour 1/2 a loaf in a day and, as you say, it makes great toast.

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    1. Dear Mary, that`s the spirit, my friend - nothing ever gets stale around here either it seems - not even bread - I put someting on the table and I just watch it disappear, just amazing. This is a nice recipe to try, love that pre-heated casserole dish thing, reminded me of baking the no-knead bread form Jim Lahey.
      Thank you for the kind comment,
      Andrea

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  4. Wow does this bread look wonderfully delicious! I love the addition of molasses. Your loaf is simply beautiful! Soda bread also freezes well.

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    1. Kathy, you are absolutely right - soda bread freezes very well (I was told) - but since I never have left-overs it just never occurs to me to mention that.
      Thank you for the kind comment,
      Andrea

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  5. Soda bread is delicious and I make one on occasion. I make so much other bread that it gets lost in rotation! This reminds me how easy and delicious it is, not to mention beautiful. Hope you are well, Andrea. Love to the girls :)

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    1. Dear Nazneen, easy, fool-proof and delicious - just the type of recipe I need every once in a while when life gets so busy you think you can hardly breathe.
      Hope you and your lovely family is doing well - from all the pictures on FB you all look quite happy - how nice!
      Thank you for stopping by for comments,
      Andrea

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  6. I have to try this, Andrea. Mark and I have just started to really enjoy a variety of soda breads but this one is particularly appealing! Love your butter dish, too. Oh, and I made speculaas this past weekend, and naturally thought of you. Liebe Grüße! David

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    1. Dear David, a quick soda bread is just what I have time for some days and it is just perfect for mopping up that sauce and dunking into a bowl of hot steaming soup - stumbled upon this recipe, tried it, loved it changed it ever so slightly and will definitely make again!
      Liebe Grüsse an dich und Mark,
      Andrea

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  7. I keep reading about Nigel Slater and wanting to buy one his books, but haven't yet. Is there one that you would recommend starting with? Your bread looks excellent. I need to remember to make soda bread more often.

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    1. Dear Jora, how nice that you ask me about one of my very favorite British cook/writer - I love a lot of his books but I am particularly fond of "Tender" his book about vegetables and the follow-up "Ripe" (which focuses more on fruits) - but a lot of people also enjoy his "Kitchen Diaries" - lots of fabulous writing there.... In "Tender" and "Ripe", you are bound to marvel at the recipes, the outstanding photography and the fabulous no-fuss recipes - when I sit down with one of his books, I feel like I am entering a different world, every single time.
      Hope that helps, let me know if you need more information,
      Andrea

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  8. It has been quite awhile since I've prepared a soda bread, so in fact, I must credit you for bringing it back to my attention. The loaf looks lovely, and I quite like salt and pepper shakers along with the matched butter dish, and breathed a huge sigh of relief that this might also be put to good use on safari too. Thanks for sharing yet another beautiful Post!

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    1. Peggy, the safari part crackes me up every time I look at these salt and pepper shakers and the butter dish - did you know that these were my very FIRST props ever?! I have had them for years now and never used them and they have travelled thousands of kilometers, not for a safari but still...

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  9. omygosh,
    even your butter dish & salt and pepper shakers are FABULLOUS!!! xx

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  10. a beautiful loaf...so easy to make too...we are always in search for quick bread recipes for weekends...this sure is going to be loved for breakfast...thanks for inspiring :-)

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    1. Kumar, thank you kindly - these quick breads are sometimes just what we need - no-fuss, easy and still delicious results!
      So nice to hear from you,
      Andrea

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  11. Andrea, es ist fast nicht zu glauben, dass aus einem Topf im Backofen so ein perfekter Laib Brot kommen kann. Das Backwerk sieht zum Anbeissen aus. Ich werde es am Wochenende ausprobieren :-) Hab Dank fuer die Inspiration und einen ganz lieben Gruss!

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    1. Liebe Wally, hoffe, es ist dir gut gelungen - würde mich freuen - hard to believe but true - so ein schönes Brot aus so wenig Zutaten - auf den guten Herr Slater ist halt Verlass.
      Liebe Grüsse aus Bonn,
      Andrea

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