I recently had a chance to sit on the couch with a cup of peppermint tea and my cookbooks. We've been so busy lately that there hasn't been time for such simple pleasures. The colder weather has me searching for hearty, warming recipes. I came across a delicious looking Seedy Rye Soda Bread recipe in Hugh Fearnely Whittingstall's River Cottage: Light and Easy cookbook. His recipe had honey and apple juice so I went searching for a recipe without the sweet stuff (honey does strange things to my blood sugar levels).
Soda bread comes from Ireland where they cut a cross in the top of the loaf before baking. Some say this is to ensure even baking, others say it's to let the devil out. How the devil got in there in the first place is anyone's guess! It gets its name from bicarbonate of soda which is used in the bread as a raising agent instead of yeast. The alkaline bicarb reacts with the acidic buttermilk to create gas to make the dough rise.
Being lactose intolerant, I needed to find a recipe that didn't use buttermilk or yoghurt. In my searching I discovered that baking powder is made up of bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar. The cream of tartar is the acidic element and replaces the traditional buttermilk. Using baking powder means the bread goes stale faster but this is so yummy, it doesn't get a chance to hang around the house.
When I found this recipe I knew that the acidic apple juice had been replaced by the baking powder absent in Hugh's recipe. I adapted the recipe slightly to incorporate olives and rosemary, my all-time favourite bread combination. I don't usually eat flour but the smell of fresh bread baking with rosemary was far too tempting so I made an exception for this tasty bread!
The girls loved helping out and used the scrapings from the bowl to make a loaf for the littles. They're tiny people with tails who lives in the walls of big people's houses. I read about them when I was a girl and now my girls are enjoying the stories too. Although they think the Littles are thieves because they steal all they need from the big folks. I just loved that they had tails!
Rosemary and Olive Rye Soda Bread
250g rye flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp rosemary
150ml - 200ml warm water (about 40 C)
1/2 cup kalamata olives
Preheat the oven to 200 C (392 F).
Line a baking sheet with baking paper.
Put all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix with a wooden spoon.
Scrape the dough off the spoon and back into the batter as you mix.
Scrape the dough on to a lightly floured surface and shape into a loaf with well floured hands.
Put the loaf on to the baking treat and dust with flour. Cut a deep cross in the top (at least half way down).
Bake for 30 minutes, move to a cooler shelf for the last couple of minutes.
Tap the loaf, if it sounds hollow, it's done.
Tip onto a wire rack to cool.
Keeps for a couple of days. Not sure how long to be honest - we just scoffed it as soon as it came out of the oven!