Cheese and carbs, does it get better?
Bread is an essential element of most of our diets yet the baking of it is hardly a common place activity. I suspect that this is because many people are scared of yeast; unsure of what is is, how to activate it, where to buy it etc. In fact working with yeast is actually very easy and dare I say it, fun, but today I shall skip over the use of it altogether by introducing you to soda bread. Soda bread uses bicarbonate of soda as it’s leavening agent instead of traditional yeast which means you can have a loaf of it in the oven in the time it takes to brew a cup of tea. There is no kneading and no proving, just quickly scrape the ingredients together and bake.
I have strayed from more traditional recipes, as I tend to do, in the creation of this soda bread with the additions of cheddar and thyme. The cheese is laced throughout the dough as well as stretching gloriously and ungracefully across the gnarly crust, as if determined to imprint on as much of the bread as possible. The thyme is delicate, understated and the perfect compliment to the sharp cheddar.
Enjoy this warm and slathered with good quality salted butter. It must be salted and it must be butter.
Makes 1 loaf
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time – 30 minutes
- 400 g good quality plain white flour
- 330 ml buttermilk
- 1 level tsp salt
- 1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 40 g mature cheddar, grated
- 4 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed
- Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C (fan oven).
- Sieve the flour, salt and bicarb into a large bowl. Use a fork to stir through 30 g cheddar and the thyme leaves. Make a well in the center and pour two thirds of the buttermilk in. Using splayed fingers mix together the dry ingredients and the buttermilk, scraping any flour from the side of the bowl. Add the rest of the buttermilk if necessary and mix together until a soft but not wet dough has formed. Try to not over work the dough by doing this step quickly.
- Tip the dough onto a floured surface and shape gently with your hands until the dough is a large ball. The dough will look rustic and gnarly as it has not been kneaded, do not be alarmed. Place the dough on a lightly floured baking tray. Use a sharp knife to mark a large cross on top of the ball. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar on top of the ball.
- Place in the oven for 10 minutes. Turn to heat down to 190 degrees C (fan) and bake for a further 20 minutes. To test if it is done tap the bottom of the loaf – it should sound hollow.
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