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)
- Preheat the oven to 220 degress Celsius (425 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Put a large casserole dish** and its lid into the oven.
- 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.
- Pour in the buttermilk, bringing the mixture together as a soft dough. Work quickly as the bicarbonate of soda will start working immediately.
- 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.
- 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
- Then cover with the lid and return to the whole thing to the oven.
- Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes.
**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.