Soda bread

FOLLOWING the article about bread by Marie-Louise Backhurst titled ‘The Conquest of Bread’, which appeared in the Autumn issue of RURAL Jersey Country Life magazine, we received this letter from James McLaren, which we publish below: ‘I acquired some of the National Trust for Jersey’s flour a month or two back. I happened to be watching Tom Kerridge on BBC2 and picked up his recipe for soda bread. ‘I’ve tried this, and to quote Mr Kerridge: “It’s proper lush”! I made it as a round flat loaf, which I then cut into quarters – I believe these are what they call “soda farls”. ‘Split a farl, toast it and smother it with butter, and it’s a very good accompaniment to homemade soup. Conveniently it is possible to get local buttermilk from Classic Farm Ship, St Peter.

‘Recipe: 340g plain wholemeal flour 240g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting, 45g butter, softened 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda 1½ tsp salt 1 tsp cracked black pepper (peppercorns put in a mortar and bashed) 625 ml buttermilk

‘Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F ‘ Gas 6. Put both flours and the butter in a large bowl and mix, then add the bicarbonate of soda, salr and pepper. Stir in the buttermilk and use your hands to mix all the ingredients together until a soft dough forms (you will probably need a bit of flour; the dough is very sticky at this point). Split the dough in two and transfer to two greased baking sheets. Shape into large flat disks and dust with a little extra flour.

‘It might look disastrous at this point, but do not fret – put the baking sheet in the oven and bake the bread for 45 minutes. It will come out looking like a proper loaf and it should be golden in colour. ‘Transfer the loaf to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.’