Monday, 24 August 2015

My GBBO Challenge #3: Soda bread

First of all, as of Monday 24th August, I still weigh 11 stone.  I'm nothing if not consistent.

Now, to the fun stuff.

Apparently, Mary Berry gave away that Dorret was leaving GBBO this week, taking some of the tension out of the episode.  However, it had been on the cards since the beginning, with Dorret struggling throughout.  This week, it was her showstopper that really failed to impress.  Considering she hadn't even bothered to practise it, I don't think there was much of a surprise even before Berry's blunder.

The signature challenge this week was to make a quick bread.  As it's without yeast, it doesn't have to be proved or kneaded in the same way as normal bread.  I'd never made soda bread before so I turned to the original GBBO tie-in book for my recipe.  It's only got four ingredients and requires little more than mixing together, so I went in feeling confident...

OCD Panic Rating: 1/5
Handwashes: 1

Sieve together some flour, bicarb and salt.  Make a well.  Add buttermilk.  Mix.  Make a vaguely loaf-shaped object.  Put it on the baking tray, score the top, and bake until yummy.

It really is that simple a recipe.  Considering I only needed four ingredients, I did manage to mess up 25% of them by not having table salt.  I tried to grind up some rock salt but it wasn't quite what I was looking for.  No matter.  I followed the recipe and had a ready-to-bake dough like this within about seven minutes:


Based on what they said on the show, I scored quite deep in the hope of getting a good bake throughout the loaf.  My dough wasn't quite as sticky as some that the contestants made but it felt too late to add any extra buttermilk.  I decided to try the bake as it was, putting it in for about 35 minutes.  When it first came out, it didn't sound hollow when I knocked it, so I gave it another five minutes.  It still didn't sound quite right but I didn't want to risk it burning, particularly as the edges were already nicely brown:


Slightly weird turrets on the corners but a well-risen loaf otherwise.  

I can't resist freshly-baked bread so I cut into this as soon as it was cool enough to handle.  Turns out my concerns about the bake were justified: it was slightly underdone in the middle.  The texture was fine otherwise, but the very centre was a bit doughy where it hadn't fully baked.

On the positive side, it had a pleasant taste and the crust was perfectly cooked.  Some soda breads can taste too heavily of bicarb, but I think I got away with it.  I ate a slice (or 3) with soup for lunch, and it was a really excellent accompaniment to it.  Considering the whole bake took less than an hour, I can see why this is such a popular bread.

Key Points:
  • Trust your ears.  If it doesn't sound hollow when you knock the base, it probably needs longer.
  • Rock salt is great in cooking, less so in baking.
Win Rating: 4/5



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