Thursday, 16 April 2015

The weekend loaf: Fruity soda bread

I really want to share this absolutely scrumilicious recipe with you because it has blown my mind with regard to how bread can taste, and the texture one can achieve with the use of alternative types of flour. The recipe is Fruity Soda Bread, once again from River Cottage Light and Easy (I promise Hugh F-W isn't sponsoring me, but I'm open to offers Mr F-W!) which I've been wanting to try for ages. There are rather a lot of ingredients for a bread, as evidenced by this photo...

... but each one is, it seems to me, entirely essential in producing the unique taste and texture. The texture is particularly dependant upon the inclusion of rice flour. I'd not used it before, and it creates the feeling of the tiniest, finest grains on the surfaces of your teeth as you chew and eat, but this is enjoyable; not at all unpleasant. It's rather difficult to make the feeling of grains on your teeth sound an enjoyable prospect, but I assure you it is! I was unable to source brown rice flour, as the recipe states, so I just used white, obtained from Wally's delicatessen in Cardiff, and combined it with wholemeal rye flour, just from Tesco, to balance out the requirement for wholemeal which would have come from the brown rice flour.

Another reason I wanted to share this recipe is because it gives me the opportunity to share a great tip with you which I inadvertantly discovered some time ago. Once the dry ingredients of the recipe are mixed together, the wet ingredients; juice of one orange (I improvised and used two clementines due to not having an orange), cloudy apple juice, honey and olive oil, need to be mixed together before being added to the dry.

Adding raisins and chopped dried apricots

It's far harder to zest a clementine than an orange!

Now I don't know about you, but it is infuriating when one is asked to measure out a weight of a substance such as honey, golden syrup or black treacle, especially in an amount that is too large to just be measured by tablespoon. The sticky substance just sticks to the vessel/scales pan/tablespoon and makes a sticky mess which is a pain to clean. But be infuriated no more, because I have the solution to this irritating situation.

Before measuring your particular sticky substance, pour a small amount of oil (I use olive because that's what I always use) into the receptacle and spread it around to coat the surface...

 Surface coated, unfortunately invisibly!

Pour your sticky substance in and weigh out the required amount.

Then get the vessel into which the stickiness needs to be transferred, and pour away! You will find that the oil repels the stickiness, and that it will flow easily and cleanly into where you want it to go.

In this case, it was a jug of freshly squeezed clementine juice with apple juice and olive oil.

Now you don't have to worry about not being able to use your scales pan until you've given it a good scrub, as there will be barely any residue, if any at all.

Honey dissolved in mixture...

...and added to dry ingredients

In this recipe, the handling of the dough is minute, but noticable, since the dough is extremely wet. If you own the book and are thinking of making this recipe, I would strongly advise you not to add the entire jug of wet ingredients at once. I had to add quite a lot of rye flour back into the bowl to make it possible to even handle. I managed to get it to a "sloppy yet staying in a mass" consistency, and was able to transfer it to the surface to shape, and from there to the baking tray. I cut five slices in the top, as instructed by HF-W, and popped it in the fan oven...

...and here's how it came out! Seriously, the aroma of this bread whilst baking is amazing. It fills the house and is sweet and inviting. I was tremendously excited to find out how it was going to taste.

I decided tear and share was the best approach, and that, in order to fully apreciate the flavour, we shouldn't add anything but butter, so I served it on this beautiful platter I found in Homesense a short while ago, put the Lurpak on the table and we got stuck in!

It was definitely correct that butter was the only necessary addition, and since we ate it straight from the oven, it melted into the bread and made it taste simply incredible. As you can see below, it crumbled up as soon as an attempt was made to slice it in half, so I just buttered hunks of it and ate it like that. 

So incredibly filling yet also incredible moreish.

Husb and I polished off about three quarters of the loaf for lunch, then we saved the rest for the boys, who were at the grandparents' for the morning.

 This photo sums up this bread perfectly: a half smile mixed with "Mmmmmm" sounds, with a look of, "I can't wait for the next bite!"

I'm sorry I don't actually have permission to reproduce the actually recipe; it's something I still need to look into, but perhaps you'll be inspired to buy this fantastic book and have a go that way.

Happy baking and eating :)

xxx Sam

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