The Un-dead Bread!

It’s Hallowe’en and as scary as the costumes and carved pumpkins are, there is something I find truly horrible that makes me shiver with terror.

‘What’s that?!’ I hear you ask…

I’m talking of the horrible undying bread!

With its Frankenstein inspired ingredients list of scary sounding chemicals, and its ability to never go stale and remain soft, limp even, for weeks on end, not to mention its soul less lack of taste and texture, it truly is the living dead of the baked goods world.

Enriched Wheat Flour (Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Iron(Ferrous Sulphate, Reduced Iron), Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, Yeast, Salt, Soybean Oil, Sugar, Malt, Dough Conditioners(Ascorbic Acid, Calcium Sulphate, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate),Calcium Propionate…..

Scary stuff? I think so! This is what is in standard white bread, the staple of the western world, as well as some things that are not added to the label such as enzymes and the like. Even more frightening is that some breads contain a dough stabiliser that is made from human hair…!

Personally I find this scary and I imagine many of you will agree with me. As a chef and a baker the ingredients for bread should read as follows; flour, water, yeast and salt  – maybe a little oil at a push, certainly not sodium stearoyl lactylate!

There’s more to it than just sounding scary and I won’t bore you with the countless reports and studies into the unhealthiness of cheap bread, but a quick search on google will reveal all if you so wish. I understand the convenience of this product and how unrealistic it is of me to say everyone should make their own bread for every day however….

There is one way of making bread that’s quick, easy and means you know exactly what it is you’re actually eating and most importantly it is amazingly tasty, and that of course is soda bread.

Using no yeast to rise the dough, just bicarbonate, means no kneading. In fact kneading is positively bad for soda bread! It’s just a case of mixing everything together and throwing it in the oven, put your feet up for forty minutes then open the oven door and you have a fresh, tasty and healthy loaf.

I’ve included a recipe below but don’t be afraid to mix it up! Keep the quantities of bicarb, flour and buttermilk the same but you can add anything like else like nuts, seeds, fruit or chocolate – whatever takes your fancy!

Enjoy and happy Hollowe’en!


Soda Bread:

You will need-

  • 500g plain flour
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • Approx. 400ml buttermilk or live yoghurt

1. Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir in the salt. Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk or yogurt stirring as you go.  It should form a soft dough, just sticky but not too annoyingly so!

2. Tip it out on to a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly for about a minute, just long enough to pull it together into a loose ball but no longer – you need to get it into the oven while the bicarb is still doing its stuff.

3. Put the dough on a lightly floured baking sheet and dust generously with flour. Mark a deep cross in it with a sharp, serrated knife, cutting about two-thirds of the way through the loaf. Put it in an oven preheated to 200°C/gas mark 6 and bake for 40-45 minutes, until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath.

4. If you’re a fan of crunchy crusts, leave to cool on a wire rack or if your prefer something softer wrap in a tea towel and leave to cool.