Week three of the Great British Bake Off and it was bread week. The technical challenge was to bake two soda bread loaves, one savoury and one sweet, plus make some butter. I’m definitely not going to be making any butter, and time kind of got away from me this weekend, so no sweet soda bread either. If I have time I might attempt it during the week.
Anyhow, soda bread is relatively easy to make, and doesn’t require any proving, where you leave the dough to rise for a few hours. Most commonly soda bread is made with buttermilk, and while I have made soda bread a few times in the past, I’ve always used regular milk. This might explain why my soda breads have been a bit heavy. The main reason why I’ve never used buttermilk is because I’ve never been able to find it in the supermarket. Yesterday my lovely wife came with me to Sainsbury’s and found the buttermilk. Helen was also picking up baking supplies as she was making some florentines as a gift for friends up the road who are moving. (You can read about my florentines here, but trust me when I say that Helen’s looked much more professional.)
After watching the bakers in GBBO I decided to try to keep it simple, and used a slightly modified Paul Hollywood recipe. In the past I’ve always used a recipe by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, and Hugh’s bread book is one of the best around.
Back to the baking, and you begin by sifting flour and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl, add some salt and a little butter, rub it all together, and then add the buttermilk, chorizo and cheese. Add a bit more liquid or flour if too dry or too wet, and then shape it into a round loaf. I was using Gruyere cheese as it is fairly hard and is good to cook with. The oven also needs to be very hot and then leave the loaf in there until the top has almost burnt, resulting in a very crusty crust.
I was very happy with how it looked, with some melting cheese oozing out. It also smelt amazing. Inside wasn’t quite as good. It probably needed a couple more minutes.
Still warm and it tasted better than I could have hoped for. Chrizo and cheese might be an easy combination, and maybe slightly too boring for GBBO, but both me and Helen loved it.
Next week is chocolate week, so who knows what the signature bake will be.