I bake my own bread.
I am that woman at school pick-up with a beatific smile on my lips, a faraway look in my eyes, and a picturesque dab of flour on my cheek.
Normally I cycle to school (my bike has a basket), but sometimes I just skip. My children look ruddy and healthy, with shiny eyes, healthy appetites and no encrusted snot anywhere.
You hate me, don’t you?
I don’t blame you. But what about when I tell you that the bread I bake is soda bread and it’s a piece of p*ss to make? Mix some flour and milk in a bowl, shove it in the oven and ta da! 45 minutes later you have a delicious, rustic-looking loaf. There’s no yeast. No complicated waiting around. Just a bit of mixing and a bit of baking. So simple even I can make it. And so can you. And then you too can be the Zen parent in the playground. Wear florals, I think that works best. Or if you’re a bloke, a tank top. I don’t know why, I think maybe it’s got something a bit Hovis about it.
Start to finish: 10 minutes plus 45 minutes in the oven
Serves: umm, it’s a medium-sized loaf so will probably last a family of 4 a couple of days.
500g plain flour
2 cups of buttermilk. What? You haven’t got buttermilk? L-o-s-e-r. Only joking, neither have I, so this is what I do instead. Add two tablespoons of lemon juice to two cups of milk (semi or whole, whatever you have) and let it stand for five minutes before you use.
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
0.5 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 200C degrees.
Make the buttermilk
Put flour, soda and salt in a large bowl and give a good stir so the ingredients are well distributed. Add the buttermilk and stir until well mixed. The mixture will be less of a dough, and more of a, um, mixture. If it feels too dry add a splash more milk, if too wet a little more flour.
Then flour a surface and plop the lot on there. It’s difficult to knead, but you probably want to give it a bit of a push, try and get it a bit round with your floured hands and then pick it up and place it on a greased or lined baking tray. Using your floured hands or a spatula, poke it so that it is more or less round, it’s incredibly sticky so don’t get too involved. Use a serrated knife to cut a cross in the top and then fling a bit of flour on it to make it look pretty. Pop in the oven for 45 minutes and when you take it out knock its base and make sure it makes a hollow sound. It shouldn’t sound a bit hollow or hollow-ish. It has to sound completely hollow (I’m bored of taking partially cooked bread out of the oven!) and when you hear it properly, you’ll know it’s right.
I bake my own bread.