A new year and a new challenge: Spotted Dog

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Spotted Dog Bread

Happy New Year! Are you waking up blurry-eyed and blurry-headed, from too much champagne and too little sleep? No? Me neither- Andrew and I stayed in last night, feasting on good food, good TV and a moderate (ok, slightly more than moderate) amount of alcohol. I awoke surprisingly refreshed this morning, ready to greet 2010 with open arms.

Hand in hand with a new year comes that old thorn in our side- resolutions. While normally mine tend toward the boring “run more” or the bizarre “hunt down the perfect shade of red lipstick”, I’ve got a few food-related resolutions in mind for 2010. The first of which is to bake more bread. I’ve tried my hand at bread making in the past, but always in a half-hearted kind of way. Now I’ve decided that enough is enough: buying bread at the farmer’s market on Sundays is one thing, but the supermarket loaves I fall back on when those run out midweek are quite another. No more will pre-sliced, preservative-laden “bread” cross my doorway: in 2010 I’m going to get kneading.


So, to put my money where my mouth is and kick the year off right, I made this festive-looking loaf for Andrew and my New Year’s Day brunch. Spotted Dog is a rich Irish soda bread, moistened with buttermilk and chock full of currents. Perhaps I’m missing the stollen I made with my sister last month (it was a sad day when the last of that disappeared) because this loaf is quite similar, looks-wise.

The recipe is from Rachel Allen‘s Home Cooking, fast becoming my favourite Christmas gift (don’t worry, a review is imminent). Given that the bread is leavened without yeast and doesn’t even require kneading, I do feel as though I’ve cheated on my resolve somewhat. But when it tastes this good, I honestly don’t care. Baby steps, right?


Spotted Dog

adapted from Rachel Allen’s Home Cooking

makes 1 large loaf

  • 450g plain flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbs. + 1 tsp. sugar
  • 110g currants
  • 1 egg
  • 350ml buttermilk
  1.  Preheat your oven to 220°C/425°F. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Stir in the currants and make a well in the centre of the mixture.
  2.  In a jug, whisk together the egg and the buttermilk. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir (using a dough whisk, if you have one) until just combined. The dough will be quite wet and sticky but don’t overwork.
  3.  Turn out onto a generously floured surface and bring together the dough into one flour-dusted ball. Transfer to a lined and floured baking sheet and form into a round about 2 1/2″ high. Cut a deep cross into the top with a sharp knife.
  4.  Bake for 10 minutes before turning down the oven to 200°C/400°F and baking for another 30-35 minutes. When done, the bread will be golden brown on top and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Allow cooling completely before slicing and serving with butter and jam.

4 Responses

  1. Mmmmm…. spotted dog!
    My New Year cooking resolutions is to make more bread and to bring lunch to college everyday… Hopefully one will lead to the other!

  2. Dawn- Great minds! 😉 Do you have a bread machine, or are you an old-fashioned baker like me? I remember the lure of buying your lunch every day at uni- it’s so easy! But this year you can have yummy sandwiches on home-baked bread 🙂

  3. I’m an old-fashioned girl. For some reason, I don’t like the taste of bread made in bread machine.
    Or I can have homemade bread with fresh soup for lunch as I have access to a microwave in uni.

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