One thing 2020 will not go down in history for will be as being an easy year. As I look back on my more recent recipes I have noticed that there has been a marked increase in the number of sweet recipes or desserts. Granted they are the healthy versions without sugar, but I cannot but notice that as the pandemic runs into months without a seemingly close end in sight, I am turning to more comfort foods myself. I have not stopped cooking healthy meals. I have however stopped taking as many photographs or creating new inspiring recipes. In times of stress we all tend to go back again and again to old tried and tested recipes.
However, as we all watch many countries go back to partial lockdowns I have decided I need to share a recipe that has saved the day a few times in recent months. Quick, no knead, no yeast bread. It will not tick the gluten-free box, but if what your body is intolerant to is the yeast (read more about this here), and especially when you do not have the time or you haven’t yet mastered the art of home-made sourdough, then this will do just fine.
Don’t be fooled. Although I would not classify this type of bread as the healthiest, I have tweaked the original recipe for soda bread to make it as close to that as possible. It’s not just the absence of instant yeast, or any type of yeast for that matter. The choice of flour has a big role to play here. I have also swaped out the buttermilk, or milk and lemon, or even milk and yoghurt, and replaced it with good old plain milk.
The only downside to soda bread is that, unlike sourdough, it doesn’t keep well. Eat it today or it will be rock hard tomorrow. However, it does freeze ok. It won’t be as soft as freshly baked, but if you leave it to defrost naturally, it will be just fine. Sometimes time constraints are more important than getting it all 100% right. So here goes.
Quick no-knead, yeast free bread
1 cup plain white flour
1 cup wholemeal or rye flour)
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 cup milk
a generous pinch of salt
1 tsp honey (or sugar) (optional)
a handful of porridge oats (optional)
Olive oil for glazing
1. Pre-heat the oven at 200° C.
2. Using a cup or a glass measure the flour into a mixing bowl. Add the salt and bicarbonate of soda and mix well.
3. Next pour in the milk and any other ingredients. Using a wooden spoon blend well with the flour. You should have quite a wet, soft mixture. If it’s too sticky simply add a little more flour.
4. Then turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a couple of minutes until you get a smooth dough. Shape as desired. I made mine a large round loaf. You can also make other shapes, or even buns.
5. Flour the baking tray and place the dough in the centre. Take a large kitchen knife to score an X shape in the centre, going down almost to the bottom, and all the way across.
6. Use the olive oil to rub over the top so that it browns nicely. Sprinkle the oats on top and transfer to the oven to bake. It should take approximately 20 to 25 minutes.
The cooking time will depend on the size of your loaf (or buns) and your oven. Mine took 25 minutes. It’s cooked when the top has browned and inserting a toothpick in the middle comes out clean.
Place on a cooling rack to cool down before cutting to serve. Any remaining bits can be frozen and used another day.
That’s all there is to it! A fool proof recipe which comes together in minutes.