The March Sourdough Surprises challenge was, with St Patrick’s Day occurring this month, to make soda bread. As our lovely hostesses pointed out, “soda bread is typically moist, dense, and a little crumbly. It is a rather low gluten bread (since it typically relies on buttermilk and baking powder instead of yeast), so here your sourdough will play more of a flavoring role than a leavening agent.”
I adapted two recipes for this one to make a totally dairy-free version, with no fat or refined sugar. With no buttermilk, the acid needed to react with the baking soda comes entirely from the sourdough starter. I was worried when I put it in the oven because it was a small, fairly hard ball of dough, but it almost tripled in volume in the oven!
A nice balance of sweet and tangy, with bursts of fruit and crunchy nuts – another perfect cup-of-tea bread.
Makes one 860g (about 30oz) loaf
340g (2 1/2 cups) flour
1 tsp baking (bicarb) soda
1/2 tsp salt
120g (1 cup) currants
50g (1/2 cup) roughly chopped walnuts
240g (1 cup) fed 100% hydration starter
120ml (1/2 cup) water
4 tbsp honey
Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F) and lightly flour a baking sheet.
Whisk the baking soda and salt into the flour, then toss through the currants and walnuts, making sure the currants are coated in flour – this will ensure they stay evenly distributed through the loaf.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the starter, water and honey. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until combined. Add a dash more water if needed for the dough to come together.
Turn dough out and knead together lightly, pushing back in any currants or nuts that come out.
Form dough into a slightly flattened ball and place on baking sheet. Using a sharp knife, cut a 1cm (about 1/2″) deep cross in the top.
Bake in centre of oven for about 30 – 35 minutes, until deep golden and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath.
Cool on a wire rack.
Check out the amazing soda breads baked by my fellow sourdough surpisers!