QUICK DATE AND RAISIN SODA BREAD


Homemade bread? Have I lost my damn mind? Who's actually got time to make a loaf of bread these days? Well, quite frankly, you do my friend! This loaf is seriously low maintenance and it really is worth the 15 minutes prep time. It's a truly easy baking recipe. There's no proving or knocking back with soda bread, just mix it into a messy, gloopy heap, coax it into a rough round shape and plonk onto a baking tray and bake. Job done.

This loaf tastes great toasted and smothered with butter, it's perfect with a cuppa on drizzly winter days like this. It's a firm favourite with junior and is another quick and easy breakfast idea for kids. Be warned Soda bread doesn't stay fresh like normal bread but dries out by day 2/3 however, I don't find this to be an issue as there's never any left by then! I usually cut the loaf in half then cut one-half into slices and freeze in a freezer bag to ensure there's a constant supply for toast in the mornings.

This is a fun, messy and cathartic process, leave perfection at the door and embrace the mess!

Ingredients:

450g plain white flour

1 Tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 Tsp salt

2 Tsp caster sugar

75g raisins

30g cut up stoneless dates

50ml Total greek yoghurt

300ml Whole milk

1 Large egg

1. Pre-heat oven to 210c and lightly flour a large baking tray (don't skip this or you'll need a forklift truck to get your welded bread off once baked) or a silicone baking mat on a large baking tray

2. In a large bowl sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda then add the salt, chopped dates, raisins and sugar. You want to get some air in the mix so lift up the flour mix with your hands and let it fall back into the bowl. Repeat this a few times until it looks well mixed.

3. Crack the egg into a jug, lightly beat with a fork then add the yogurt and milk. The total volume will be just over 350ml

4. Make a well in the middle of the flour mix and pour in most of the milk mix, holding some back in case it's already wet enough. Now this is the fun bit, with one clean hand mix in a circle drawing in the flour from the sides. You want a soft, sticky dough that will stick slightly to your hands but isn't so wet and sticky you can't handle it at all. If it feels too dry and isn't coming together add the rest of the milk. The key isn't to over mix the dough so just do this as quickly and gently as possible and don't panic about the mess it will come good.

5. Wash and dry your hands then lightly flour your work surface or a silicone mat on a baking tray (this makes it super easy as there's no transferring needed after this) and turn out the mix. Lightly dust your hands with flour and just give it a gentle light roll to tidy it up and pat it into a round - you don't want it to be too squat so just coax it gently upwards so it's aprox 5cm/2in in height.

6. Pop onto your lightly floured baking tray, then with a very sharp knife cut a deep cross in the top of the bread letting the cuts go over the sides of the bread

7. Cook in the oven for 10 minutes then turn the oven down to 200c for 20 minutes or until cooked. How will you know it's cooked? With a tea towel in hand, pick up the loaf and tap the bottom if it's cooked it will sound hollow.

8. Pop onto a cooling rack and allow to cool or wait until just warm then slice and serve smothered in butter!