Buttermilk and Spelt Soda Bread
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    Makes 2 loaves
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Mr P and I both enjoy a good bit of bread. When Pump Street Bakery in Orford opened we thought that all our Christmases had come at once and we would never need to attempt to bake bread again. I enjoy baking bread, do not misunderstand me, but the enjoyment wears off quickly for me with something as technical as baking bread when it’s done on a daily basis, especially when menus change regularly.

The British Larder Suffolk team visited the Hand and Flowers in Marlow a couple of months ago. It was a very special and memorable visit and Tom and his team looked after us very well. Amongst all the special and delicious plates of food, the memory of the delicious and very tasty soda bread has stayed with me.

photo of Buttermilk and Spelt Soda Bread

I was inspired to bake my own version of soda bread. It took a few attempts to get it right, or shall I say, the way I would like it to be. I used a local spelt flour mixed with wholemeal bread flour, and a teaspoon of honey gives the soda bread a rounded, moreish and lasting flavour. I add pumpkin and sunflower seeds for extra crunch to make it more interesting and give the bread another taste dimension too. The crust is superb; bake the bread at a fairly high temperature and the crust will be crisp and the interior fluffy and delicious, exactly as you would expect it to be.

I now regularly bake this bread as I do find it very satisfying, and the best bit of all is that it’s incredibly quick to make. You can have a loaf of freshly baked soda bread on the table in just over an hour and you’re guaranteed to have the best smelling kitchen in the world!photo of Buttermilk and Spelt Soda Bread

Ingredients & Method

  • 225g strong wholemeal bread flour
  • 225g spelt flour
  • 100g rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon clear honey
  • 25g unsalted butter, softened
  • 50g pumpkin seeds
  • 50g sunflower seeds
  • 400ml buttermilk
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • plain white flour, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6. Grease and flour two deep 15cm round baking/cake tins (see Cook’s Notes).

Place the wholemeal and spelt flours, the oats, salt and bicarbonate of soda in the bowl of an electric stand mixer, then add the honey and butter. Insert the dough hook and mix, rubbing the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the pumpkin and sunflower seeds and mix for about 30 seconds to incorporate.

In a measuring jug, mix the buttermilk and egg together, then add to the rubbed-in mixture and mix on slow speed until the dough comes together.

You can easily do all of the above by hand, if you don’t have an electric stand mixer.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide it into two equal portions. Shape each portion into a round and then place each one into a prepared tin. Use a sharp knife to cut a deep cross on the top of each loaf and then dust heavily with plain white flour.

Bake in the oven for about 35 minutes or until the bread is slightly risen, lightly browned and sounds hollow when tapped underneath (see Cook’s Notes).

Remove from the oven, turn out onto a wire rack and then leave to cool for a minimum of 30 minutes before cutting – I know it’s tempting but the rested bread is always better. Enjoy!

Cook’s Notes
If you don’t have the correct size baking/cake tins, simply use baking sheets instead to bake the shaped loaves on (but note that the loaves may spread a little during baking).

To test if the bread is cooked, carefully turn each loaf out into your hand (make sure you are wearing oven gloves!) and tap with your fingers on the base – if it sounds hollow, then the bread is ready.