I am thoroughly enjoying baking along with this series of the Great British Bake Off. Although I intend to try something different each week, I can't help but feel that things have been okay. So far, so good.
Of course, that's getting a little too carried away and week 3 marked bread week. The difference in making bread at home and making bread to be judged is vast. Who am I kidding?
I do make bread from time to time, but mostly nothing spectacular. I've had every result going from the perfect crust but no rise to free-form loaves that never hold their shape. Thing is, you can make toast or a sandwich from any shape of bread. I don't seem to be able to get the best of both: technically good and looks good.
Paul, if you'd like to show me the errors of my way, you'll have to eat a few less buns to fit in my tiny kitchen!
So, it may seem like a bit of a cop out going for the 'easiest' of the recipes from the week. Alas, I have work to do and burgers to eat so a bread sculpture isn't really going to happen. And, baguettes? They scare the life out of me, think I'll leave them to the French for now.
I've heard a lot of people saying that soda bread is easy, so perhaps I should have gone all out and added some moist fillings like cheese or fruit to make things a little more difficult.
But why overcomplicate things! I've never made soda bread before and the fact that its free-formed scares me enough. I used Justin Gellatly's recipe which can be found, here.
So here's my tips in making the easiest loaf ever (as proven by me)
- for dry ingredients, stick to the basics. Wholemeal bread flour, self raising flour, oatmeal, a dash of bicarbonate of soda, salt and brown sugar. Here there's no yeast so everything is much quicker, the self raising flour and bicarbonate of soda give act as the raising agent.
- for wet ingredients, all you need is water and buttermilk. Except I rarely have buttermilk in, and if you want to make a fancy pants loaf at the drop of a hat, then chances are neither do you. So here's where the Internet steps in and offers some buttermilk hacks, here on Epicurious. The easiest of options being to water down yogurt or sour cream, or to add lemon juice or cream of tartar to milk. I chose to whisk in cream of tartar to my milk, pretty nifty.
- for mixing and forming, there's no real knack. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry and you'll get a big sticky mess. Sprinkle with some more flour and then you should be able to flop it out onto your work surface. Get your hands stuck in and work on shaping it into a smooth ball. As previously my loaves haven't had any height to them and have just shrunk down, I ensured to make my dough as tall as possible.
- lovingly rub some oil over the top to ensure a nice crust, sprinkle with oatmeal and score a cross on the top. I always find it easier to use a large serrated knife for this. A bread knife perhaps! This will also allow a little air to escape from the shape you've just worked at. Don't fear, give it a few more prods and squidge in the sides again till it proudly sits a little taller again.
Here's some ideas of what to serve your soda bread with:
The Crafty Larder's pumpkin chutney; Little Sunny Kitchen's 10 minute strawberry jam; Fab Food 4 All's gooseberry and apple jam; Tin and Thyme's chocolate cashew nut spread; Supergolden Bakes' spicy yellow pepper jam; They Called It the Diamond Blog's blueberry jam; The Veg Space's morello cherry and raspberry jam; Its Not Easy Being Greedy's home-churned butter; Recipes from a Pantry's strawberry rhubarb and basil jam.
Take a look at how I got on with the rest of the challenges