This is yet another fantastic flavour-packed savoury soda bread. They’re so much easier and quicker than yeasted breads and still taste great.
Makes: Two medium loaves or three smaller ones
Time: 20 min. prep then about 25 min. baking. (Three loaves in under an hour, excluding washing up. Can’t be bad.)
Equipment: No special stuff needed. (But if you don’t have a small plastic dough scraper I’d get one for next time.)
- 250g strong white bread flour + extra for dusting
- 250g plain white flour*1
- 1 tsp salt
- 20g baking powder or bicarbonate of soda
- 100g – 120g*2 roasted red peppers (from a jar, unless you roast your own.)
- 10 – 15 basil leaves chopped – or more if you want
- 40g – 60g pine nuts
- 80g melted butter, or Stork or anything similar*3
- 400ml buttermilk. (*4 See tip below if you don’t have any.)
1. Preheat oven to 220C/fan 200C/425F/Gas 7. Line two baking trays and scatter over some flour.
2. Put the flours, salt and baking powder into a large bowl and mix well.
3. Dry the red peppers, cut and dice them then drop them in.
4. Chiffonade the basil leaves (or in normal English, roll them up and cut into strips.) Chuck these in the mix too.
5. Add in the pine nuts. (You could roast these first for a few minutes; personally I can’t be bothered. They taste good and add texture, regardless)
6. Mix it all together while you melt the butter in the micro wave or oven.
7. Make sure the oven is up to temperature because once you add the wet stuff the chemical reaction begins and you don’t want to hang around.
8. Tip in the melted butter and buttermilk and mix well, scraping down the sides to incorporate all the flour. (Don’t tip in all the liquid in one go, just in case you don’t need it all. If you need any extra just use normal milk.)
9. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. You don’t have to knead it, just bring it together with a few firm loving squeezes.
10. Separate and shape the dough into two or three balls, place them on the trays and flatten a little. Dust with flour and/or brush with milk or left over buttermilk. Cut a deep cross into each piece.
11. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, maybe a bit less if you’ve got three small loaves on the go. When you think they’re done, tap underneath. If it sounds hollow, they’re done. If not, put them back in the oven, maybe directly on the racks rather than the baking trays. (*5 See below)
12. Cool on a wire rack etcetera – all the normal post-bake stuff.
Tips and notes
*1 Some recipes recommend plain flour for soda bread, some say strong flour. I’m undecided, so have hedged my bets and gone for a mixture. It seems to work OK.
*2 I don’t always stick to exact measurements when I add in various bits. As long as you don’t do massive amounts it’ll be fine. Be flexible.
*3 I know butter tastes the best, but I sometimes go for economy and use Stork. There are also lots of soft butter mixes available in tubs. They’re a good compromise.
*4 You can replace buttermilk as follows: 360ml milk + 40ml lemon juice. Mix and leave for five minutes then use. Apparently natural yogurt works well too, but I’ve never tried it.
*5 If I’m using different shelves in my oven I like to change the loaves over half way through. i.e. top loaf moves to lower shelf, bottom loaf moves to higher shelf. I also turn them front to back. It’s a bit of a faff, but helps even out the colour.)
Finally an admission – this flavour combination came about by accident. I had planned to use sun dried tomatoes then discovered that someone had eaten them (probably me), but we had half a jar of lovely roasted red peppers in the fridge, so I grabbed those. What a great accident.