Sunday, 3 August 2008

Spiced Soda Bread

Whenever we go out for dinner at out local Irish pub, I love ordering soda bread. I love damper too, so I'm a big fan of breads using baking soda as the leavening agent.

The recipe was originally written with caraway seed as the spice, but it also suggested cumin seeds as the substitute. When I went to make it, I couldn't find my caraway seed so I did go the substitution route. It made the bread go a rather interesting shade of yellow, a bit like a pumpkin scone colour.

I halved the recipe and ended up with a really really wet dough. I had to add a lot of flour to it to make it workable, and even then it was still very sticky as I shaped it. I was scared to add too much flour, so I tried to only add as little as possible to make it handle-able. I think the wetness of the dough also meant that my crosses didn't cut very deep. I'm blaming the wetness of the dough anyway.

The bread turned out quite dense and I really wasn't a fan. I am not sure if it was the cumin seed or if the loaves were underbaked, but I didn't really like it. I think I might try a few unflavoured soda bread recipes first before I try this again, because I do want to try it with caraway.

Spiced soda bread
adapted from Australian Good Taste Magazine July 2008 p68

2 cups (300g) plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tbs cumin seeds
30g butter, at room temperature
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp white wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius. Combine the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and 1/2 tbs of the cumin seeds in a bowl. Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture. Add the milk and vinegar and use a round-bladed knife in a cutting motion to mix until the mixture starts to come together in the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and gently shape into a ball. Use your hands to roll the dough into a 20cm long log. Cut into 4 equal portions.

Shape each dough portion into a ball and place on a large baking tray. Use a sharp knife to score a cross into the top of each ball. Sprinkle with remaining caraway seeds. Bake in oven for 25 minutes or until the bread is golden and sounds hollow when tapped on the base. Serve warm with butter.

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