Bread

On the eighth day…Festive Soda Breads

CIMG5696

On the eighth day of Chritsmas Stephen baked for me…Festive Soda Breads! Soda bread is one of the most popular and well known breads throughout Ireland. So much so the Irish people are known worldwide for their soda bread. I love it because it is so simple and quick to make. Due to it’s simplicity the basic recipe hasn’t changed for decades leaving it open to alterations, addition of flavours and ways to cook it. 

CIMG5679

Today I had a little less time to get a festive bake under my belt as I have a lot going on with various projects, so I knew soda bread would be my saviour! I wanted the breads to have festive flavours to it but also show different ways you can do it. The solution? 2 breads! Here we have a spiced pork, apple and sage soda bread cooked on the hob and a Prune, almond and chocolate soda bread oven baked.

CIMG5687

For me pork, apple and sage will never get old. In fact those ingredients are already the base for a good stuffing recipe! But to further introduce Christmas to this classic combination I decided to add some festive spices to the pork lardons before cooking. And for my sweet bread I went for a slightly deeper approach by using some prunes, chocolate and almonds. Chocolate and almonds aren’t perhaps linked solely to Christmas but they are component pieces of many, many Christmas dishes. The prunes I used  had been soaked in brandy the other day and I had a few spare. It is this addition that really puts this bread into the Christmas category. 

You will need:

Pork, apple and sage soda:
150g pork lardons (diced bacon works well too)
1/2 tsp all spice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cinnamon
300g plain flour (or 200g plain and 100g wholemeal)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (generous)
1 apple, grated
1 tsp sage
250-300 ml buttermilk (or beer if you’re feeling fancy!)

How to do it:

1. Preheat your drying pan over a high heat. Mix the lardons with the spices, season with salt and pepper then toss into the pan. Do not add any oil or butter to the pan as the fat from the pork will render out during the cooking anyway. Cook until just crispy then set aside, dry the pan and set the heat to medium-low.
2. In a large bowl mix all other ingredients, apart from the liquid, until evenly mixed. Slowly start to add in the liquid and mix, using a wooden spoon, until the dough just comes together into a soft and sticky mess. 
CIMG5664
3. Turn onto a heavily floured worktop and knead a few times only into a ball. Using a rolling pin roll it out to a circle that will fit your pan. Transfer to the hot pan and cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side or until a nice golden brown. It is ready when a hollow sound is made when you tap it. 

CIMG5671

Prune, chocolate and almond soda:
300g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (generous)
1 tbsp caster sugar
30g almonds, chopped
30g dark chocolate, chopped
50g prunes, chopped
250-300ml buttermilk

How to do it:

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan. In a large bowl mix all other ingredients, apart from the liquid, until evenly mixed. Slowly start to add in the liquid and mix, using a wooden spoon, until the dough just comes together into a soft and sticky mess. 
2. Turn onto a heavily floured worktop and knead a few times only into a ball. Using a rolling pin roll it out to a circle about 1 cm thick.
CIMG5665
Cut a cross in the top of it (this helps it to rise evenly) and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until a lovely golden brown and it makes a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom.

CIMG5678

And there we have it 2 quick and easy breads made within 1 hour. That could do for your starter and dessert if you were stuck. The flavour of these two breads is just outstanding. I would recommend using beer in the recipe, especially a strong hoppy one as a light beer won’t see it’s flavour some through. The spices in the pork work really well together and the apple provides that little hint of sweetness rather than texture. That comes from the lardons. Just look at what greets you when you slice it!

CIMG5693

The sweet soda is a real treat. Both the chocolate and prunes bring a softness whilst the almond pieces have a satisfying crunch. I think I would perhaps add about 1 tsp of cinnamon to it next time to make it a little more Christmassy. It’s great as it is but if you were to really call this a Christmas soda bread the flavour needs to lay claim to a stronger festive flavour. 

CIMG5695

Thanks again for reading,

Stephen

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “On the eighth day…Festive Soda Breads

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s