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?
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.