Bounty - Herby Soda Bread from White Cottage Bakery

For a delicious and quick bread , Helen shares her recipe for Herby sour soda bread, with cheese and wild garlic.

(makes 1 large or 2 small loaves)

Preheat your oven to 230°C

400g plain flour (preferably wholemeal)

1 tsp caster sugar

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp salt

50g hard Italian cheese (eg parmesan, pecorino, grana padano…)

100g feta cheese, crumbled

2 tbsp chopped wild garlic, or substitute mixed fresh herbs, if out of season

150g unrefreshed wheat starter*

375g buttermilk

*This recipe uses old sourdough wheat starter, but if you have none to hand, substitute with 100g extra flour and 50g extra buttermilk.

It goes against the grain to throw away starter every time it’s refreshed, so I like to incorporate it into my everyday cooking, wherever possible.  Scones and soda bread work particularly well as the acidity of unrefreshed starter reacts with the bicarbonate of soda, producing extra raising activity. The key is to handle your dough as little as possible – no kneading necessary here

Place all your dry ingredients together with the chopped herbs in one bowl.

Mix the starter with your buttermilk in another. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, holding back a little liquid in case not needed (different flours have different absorbencies) and, using your scraper or your fingers, work deftly to combine until the dough until it just comes together.

Now, turn out your dough onto a floured surface – it might be quite sticky, so use floured hands, but it shouldn’t be too wet.

Shape firmly into one large or two small rounds then score a deep cross into the top surface of (each) loaf.

Place on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes at 230°C, before turning down to 200°C and baking for the remaining 30 minutes or so, until golden brown.

If browning too quickly and you don’t think it is yet cooked, turn upside down for the last 10 minutes.

Remember, if making 2 smaller loaves, to reduce the baking time to around 25 minutes.

Variation: There’s so much fun to be had with this quick, ‘instant’ bread: try mixing in small cubes of cheddar or gruyere, crispy bacon lardons, caramelised onion, peppers or a touch of chilli. Or how about some raisins, pre-soaked in tea with your favourite spices? Eat whilst still slightly warm. Delicious! This bread won’t keep. Nor should it!

Images by Kalina Krawczyk.