Back to the day job this week and raring to go. With St Patrick’s Day on Tuesday, I’m sharing my really easy soda bread recipe. A bread that’s ready in an hour? Can’t go wrong!
I finished shooting my book, B.I.Y. Bake It Yourself, this week after a cracking month working on the pictures for it. It’s been such an interesting process and so much fun to shoot. I find it a bit surreal that it’s full of so many of my favourite recipes. Many of the recipes are things I’ve cooked for years or things that I’ve developed that hold real food memories for me. While all the pictures are now taken (and Chris Terry did an awesome job on them), I still have to make a few final edits. For example, if I decorated things slightly differently on the shoot days I need to go back through and make sure the recipes all reflect this accurately. It gives me an excuse to pore through all Chris’s photos to remind myself what I’ve done. There’s one picture in particular I’d like to turn into a jigsaw puzzle (family spoiler alert: you may all be getting these for Christmas!) I met with Quadrille this week to talk to their sales reps about the book and its launch. The idea of doing book signings in the autumn is pretty exciting! In the meantime, I’m really looking forward to being back on site with my Dad tomorrow. Though if I hadn’t spent enough time in the kitchen recently, I think we’re building one this week!
I’ve been such a hermit for the past few months while I’ve done the book, but I’m really lucky to have a bunch of mates who are used to me going off the radar for a bit. Yesterday, we went to the wonderful wedding of one of my oldest friends and her husband, and it was a great chance to catch up with everyone and have a brilliant time (see picture above). I’m also looking forward to a few holidays with the kids this year, to make up for living in the kitchen for the past few months! In a few weeks we’re holidaying on a boat on the Norfolk Broads (all tips on dog/kid friendly places to go are welcome) and then we’re camping in the South of France this summer. We’ll also be camping at Jamie Oliver & Alex James’s Big Feastival and a few other events over the summer, so we’re splashing out on a new, big family tent this week and hope to get a lot of use out of it. I’ll need to figure out if there are any bakes I can make on a camping stove…!
I posted a Mother’s Day Recipe yesterday and since then, quite a few people on Facebook and Twitter have sent me pictures of their versions of the cake (see collage above). This is probably my favourite thing that’s happened since I’ve been on Bake Off. I really love it when people go to the trouble of sending me their versions of my recipes – especially as quite often it’s from people who have never baked before. The picture in the bottom left corner above is by one of my oldest friends, Matthew, and his daughter. Matt’s never baked before so seeing this cake makes me chuffed to bits. It was the same when my old mate Ross, who’d also never baked, made my Valentine’s chocolate brownies for his wife Karis. I think my pesto pinwheel is the thing people have sent me the most, and I can’t wait for people to start doing this with recipes from my book.
So here’s a really easy recipe for you to make for St Patrick’s Day this week. When I think “Irish Baking”, I think “soda bread” and growing up in North London I’ve had my fair share of soda bread over the years! It’s also a bit of a speciality of my little sister. The usual hurdle with soda bread is getting hold of buttermilk, not because it’s hard to come by necessarily, but more that you usually have to make a special trip out to get it. But luckily you don’t need it! Buttermilk is basically milk with acid added, so you can make a good approximation of it by adding lemon juice or vinegar to regular milk (as I’ve done below). You should be able to rustle this recipe up from the things you usually find around the kitchen, so have a go at it. It requires no proving, and takes less than an hour from start to finish. So if you’re planning on going out and celebrating for St Patrick’s Day, this will at least give you something to soak it up and bring you back to the land of the living the following morning. It’s certainly worked with my post-wedding hangover today!
Soda Bread Recipe
- 320ml milk
- 1 1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar (if you don’t have white wine vinegar, white vinegar, red wine vinegar or cider vinegar are fine)
- 400g plain white flour (plus extra for flouring the surface)
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tsp salt
- Preheat the oven to 220 oC / 200oC Fan / Gas Mark 7 and lay some baking parchment on a baking tray
- Measure out the milk in a jug and add the vinegar – it will curdle and look off, but that is just the acid from the vinegar reacting with the milk proteins
- Weigh out the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon. You will not be kneading this bread, so this is the main way you are going to distribute the salt and bicarbonate of soda
- Use the spoon to make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the curdled milk. Mix up with a spoon, making sure not to leave any dry flour at the bottom until you have a very sticky dough
- Liberally flour a work surface (about 3 tbsp over a 30 x 30cm square) and turn out the dough
- Sprinkle more flour on to the top of the dough, so your hands don’t stick to it when you touch it
- Shape the dough into a ball and lay out onto the baking tray. Rub flour onto the blade of a long knife and cut a deep cross shape into the dough
- Bake for 30 minutes, then take out and set to cool on a wire rack
- Cut into thick slices, slather with butter, and either eat with jam or dip in soup