I woke up this morning and realised with a jolt that I am now thirty-one weeks pregnant.
That means there are, in theory, a mere nine weeks between now and the arrival of Baby Stitch. Often referred to as Little One, Li’l Bub, Tiny Terrorist, Bubsicle, The Wriggler, or any of his sixty-odd additional nicknames. I am deep into third trimester territory, feeling even more gigantic with each passing day, enjoying the insistent prodding of little feet combined with daily aches and pains, and not to mention the growing anxiety about Becoming and Parent. Scary stuff!
Nesting has become a big feature of these final weeks. Li’l Bub’s room is now decorated and just needs a new carpet; parcels of tiny clothes have begun to arrive; plans for a small extension and kitchen renovation are well underway; and I’ve started work on a new crochet blanket. And more and more I’ve been turning to simple baking as a source of comfort. Comfort and essential carbs, because growing a baby is a calorie intensive process y’all.
Having a bit of extra time on my hands, I decided to turn my hand to baking soda bread. The beauty of soda bread is its simplicity; minimal kneading, no proving, and less than an hour from first opening the store cupboard to taking the fresh crusty loaf out of the oven. I’ve made several loaves this week (all have been devoured within a couple of days) and so far it seems that the secret to a really good loaf is all in the flour. I love the flavour and texture that comes from a course bread flour loaded with seeds. You can also mix and match different bread flours to taste.
My favourite recipe for soda bread can be found all over the internet, but for ease here it is. If you want to save it for later, I’ve popped a Pin-able picture below!
Super simple soda bread
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade, and grease or flour a large baking sheet.
- For one large loaf, combine 500g of bread flour in a large bowl with a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda and a teaspoon of salt. Stir in 400ml of buttermilk, combining all the ingredients into a thick sticky dough.
- If you are using a mixer and a dough hook make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl periodically to make sure all the dry ingredients are mixed in.
- Tip the dough out onto a well-floured surface. I like to use a wooden chopping board for this, as the dough sticks to it slightly less than the kitchen worktop.
- With floury hands to prevent sticking, gently knead and work the dough into a ball. Transfer the ball onto your baking sheet and flatten slightly with your hand. Using a sharp knife, score a cross into the top of the loaf that almost cuts all the way through to the tray.
- Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown and well-risen. Flip your loaf over using oven gloves and give the base a tap: when fully cooked it should sound hollow.
Let your loaf cool a little (but not completely!) before serving with a little oil and vinegar for dipping, or as an accompaniment to a beautiful bowl of leek and potato soup.
The very best in simple comfort eating, whether for a simple summer supper, or as a hearty lunch for growing a small person!
What are your favourite recipes for comfort?