Anyone who knows me will tell you that food is very important in my life. I am a bottomless pit that demands constant feeding. Ever read the Hulk comics? A lovely mild mannered scientist transforms into an unrecognisable rage filled beast who cannot be reasoned with. Meet his sister. To put it simply, I’m not pretty when I’m hungry. What’s worse is that I don’t necessarily realise when I’m getting that way. I have friends who have thrown a chocolate bar at me and said, “Eat that. I’ll come back in ten minutes.” It’s not good.
Over time I have managed to figure out my signs. If you ask me whether I’m hungry or not and I don’t know the answer, then I’m hungry. If my eyes glaze over in conversation and I start agreeing to everything to get the conversation over with, then I’m hungry. If I snap your head off, burst into tears or generally lose the plot for no real reason, then I’m probably hungry. Hungry + angry = hangry.
So, you may have gathered by now that food is important. Around here, my staple is brown soda bread. It’s great in an emergency or when the cupboard is running bare. Have it with relish and melted cheese, or butter and jam, dipped in soup or piled high with chocolate spread. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.
So down to business. Here’s the recipe I use:
Brown Soda Bread
2 cups plain flour
2 cups wholemeal flour
2 teaspoons bread soda
1 duck egg or 2 hen eggs (these are for keeping the bread fresher for longer, so if you don’t have them, then don’t worry)
2 cups buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk, use milk with a couple of teaspoons of vinegar in it and leave somewhere warm to stand for 10 minutes)
Heat your oven to 180°C
Put all the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix with your hands. Lift handfuls of the mixture up and let drop back into the bowl to work air into it.
Beat your egg(s) and stir into the flour mixture. It should start to look more like breadcrumbs now.
Add in your buttermilk and stir just enough to combine. Your dough should look like lumpy porridge now.
Pour into a silicone bread tin and bake. If you are using a metal tin, add slightly less liquid and roll the mix gently into your paper lined baking tin.
Every recipe I have ever come across says bake until the base of the bread sounds hollow when tapped. I never do that. It means taking the bread out of the tin and possibly having to put it back in again. Instead, I insert a skewer and when it comes out clean, the bread is ready.
Don’t worry too much about top of bread being really hard and crusty. Get a damp tea towel and wrap the bread in it, leave it on a rack to steam and cool for a while. This softens the crust so you don’t crack a tooth on it.
Make yourself a cup of tea, slice up the loaf and slather in butter or whatever you’re having yourself.