Dan Lepard's Wholemeal Soda Bread

I'm a massive sourdough girl - I feed my sourdough starter every day and have been known to take it with me if it's looking a little unwell - it really is like having a (fifth) child!

Now some people appreciate the complexity of my sourdough, on twitter there are a core few who I'll talk particulars with (the Breadmakers) - but almost universally the bread people ask me about is sodabread.  Yes.  Irish sodabread.

Bizarrely, despite having Irish and Scottish family, I've never made my own... This Christmas the question came up three times... I'd made sundried tomato rolls, black olive rolls, and cumin bread - wasn't that enough?  No, everyone wanted sodabread...  When @JohntheCabby asked me too, I knew something would have to be done.

First of all there was the question over which recipe to use.  A quick trawl of the BBC web site revealed Richard Corrigan's recipe, which I was about to make, but Azelia felt quite strongly that the balance of ingredients was incorrect.  So, to the books then...  I dragged out all my main cookery books... Now I know Lorraine Pascal has a recipe, and I'm pretty sure Rachel Allen and Nigel Slater will have one too, but I chose to stick in the main part to the bread books.

The List                           The 'No Recipe' Pile            The Contenders

My choices were made much easier by the fact that only two main breadmakers seemed to have sodabread recipes (which I think reflects my own experience - the sourdough makers don't tend to make sodabread!).  Emerging from the pile were Dan Lepard and Paul Hollywood.  We conferred on twitter and I decided to go with Dan's more full-bodied recipe, in Baking with Passion (Baker & Spice)

300ml buttermilk or thin plain low fat bio yoghurt
1 Tbsp black treacle
220g self-raising white flour
220g plain wholemeal flour
1 Tbsp wheat germ
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp Maldon salt, finely ground
plain flour for dusting

Put the dried ingredients together into a bowl and mix together to ensure they are evenly distributed and that there are no lumps.

Warm together the treacle and the buttermilk mixture, and pop into a well in the dry ingredients.  Bring together with your hands (or with a scraper).

In the first instance my mixture was a little too sticky, and as this isn't a kneading dough, I popped in another small handful of wholemeal flour.

This time I brought together the dough lightly, and shaped it into a round.

Like a sourdough baker, I tried to slash the loaf with my lame - but of course there's nothing to release, it's an unproved loaf...

So, trying again with a bread knife, and cutting down to about 1/3 of the loaf... Now I've not put any steam in the oven, and this is cooked on a baking tray, not a stone.

These are my results and Dan's pic from the book.  It seems I need a deeper cut into the loaf before baking, but the crumb is dense and chewy - the treacle does add an incredible almost umami'ness to the loaf - it works really well with the buttermilk and bicarb flavour.

The Breadmakers

Richard Bertinet : Richard is a French break maker living and working in Bath.  He runs a very successful cookery school, and has several books.  Richard's site   ... on twitter

Azelia : Azelia writes a blog called Azelia's Kitchen.  Whilst she writes about lots of different food themes, this year particularly has seen the rise of Azelia the bread maker.  Lots of experimentation with different flours etc, and visits to other bread makers.  Azelia's Blog   ... on twitter

Luc Martin : Luc lives in the Netherlands, but is not Dutch :0)  He writes about restaurants, food, recipes.  Luc's Blog  ... on twitter

 Do buy a copy of Dan's book :0)