Sunday, 5 September 2010

Soda Bread v Mothers Pride

I’ll start by telling you that I don’t like bread. Well not really. I eat it because, well have you tried to do without bread. It’s not easy. I have never been able to eat the pap that the supermarkets turn out. When I was a young child they ‘invented’ the Chorley Wood method of making bread. This cut down the time it takes to make a loaf. If my memory serves me correctly the first of this new wonder loaf was indeed Wonder Loaf, closely followed by Mother’s Pride.

I rejected this straight the way. I couldn’t bear the thought that I could take a slice in my little hand and squeeze it back into dough and it wouldn’t spring back. My mother bought me bought wholemeal loaves from the local baker and the little Hovis loaves. I preferred the Hovis. I now find out that current thinking says that we should all be eating wholemeal loves. I will probably live for ever.

Although I have no medical proof, or even the knowledge to make this assumption, it is nevertheless, my opinion that some people who think that they are allergic or intolerant to wheat and gluten are not intolerant to them at all. Rather they are intolerant to the methods of mass production of bread. Bread making is science. It is a series of reactions. They need time to happen. If you don’t give them that time then you end up with a job half done. If you want to read more about this from someone who is a lot more knowledgable and informed than I am. Have a look at Andrew Whitley’s Bread Matters. The full title is Bread matters. The state of modern bread and a definitive guide to baking your own bread. As the title suggests there is an interesting discussion on modern bread and bread making methods, together with details of how to make your own bread with lots of explanation, detail and recipes.

I started making my own bread about 5 years ago. I started with a bread maker. This lasted for about two years and was very well used. I know a lot of people who have bought bread makers with good intentions of making their own. Only to banish it to the back of a cupboard along with the thing that cuts cucumber into long spirals. When my bread maker died a death I decided to buy a mixer that would do the job. I opted for a Kitchen Aid and can confirm that 3 years on it is still going strong. I know I should knead it myself and I do sometimes. But kneading is boring. I usually make stone ground wholemeal bread. I haven’t quite got it right yet, but I am working on it. I think that I need to read Andrew’s book again.

Today for a change, I decided to try soda bread. The process is quick and I was interested to know whether this speed would affect the overall quality of the bread in the same way that the industrialisation of bread has. This does not appear to have happened. I suppose thousands of Irish and hundreds if not thousands of years of cooking this type of bread cant be wrong. What I have is a small wholemeal loaf. It is light and not pappy. It tastes almost malty. I believe it will last a few days. This is good as there is only me eating it.

200g Stone ground wholemeal flour
40g Strong white bread flour
½ tsp Salt
½ level tsp Bicarbonate of soda
1 egg (I only ever use free range organic)
½ tbs Sunflower oil
½ tsp dark brown sugar (you could use honey or treacle if you have it)
200 ml Buttermilk

Pre heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas mark 6. If you have a fan oven drop the temperature a bit. Refer to your instructions for how much. I usually find about 20 degrees with my centigrade based oven. Grease or as I did line a tin with that plastic lining stuff that you can use over and over again. Mix all of the dry ingredients together. Beat the egg and add it to the buttermilk together with the oil. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet in and mix. The mixture should be wet and sloppy. Pour and scrape into the tin and cook for about an hour until it is brown, crusty and sounds hollow when you knock on the bottom. I cooked mine for 55 minutes, then took it out of the tin and put it back in for another 5 minutes to crisp up.

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