Welcome to this week’s edition of “OH MY GOD DO I HAVE TO COOK AGAIN?!?!?!!”
Yeah, prepping 3 meals a day HAS to be getting a little old, even if your throw in a carryout pizza once in a while.
One of the most common things I’ve heard in the past couple of weeks is that yeast is almost impossible to find.
And it’s tough to make bread without yeast.
Or is it?
Sure, you can go the sourdough route, if you want to spend the time to get the starter going, and have that fermentation smell in the house. And if you can keep up with making enough things with the sourdough to keep the starter in check.
Or, you can just make soda bread.
Soda bread is quick — just 40 minutes from pantry to plate.
Soda bread is easy — only 5 ingredients.
Soda bread is simple to make — no kneading, proofing, or rising involved.
And, most importantly, soda bread is tasty.
For a small loaf, you’ll need:
- 2 cups flour
- 3 Tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup buttermilk – or substitute (see end of column)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients.
Mix in 2 Tablespoons of the melted butter, and stir to combine.
Now, before you add the buttermilk, you have the chance to customize this loaf. If it’s your first time, maybe skip this part and just make a “normal” loaf. But if you’re more adventuresome, now’s the time to dress it up. I added a bunch of fresh ground black pepper, and a healthy amount of Parmesan Reggiano (use small chunks or chips, not grated–the grated melts and disappears into the bread). But you can add a healthy amount of Trader Joe’s Everything Bagel seasoning, and some aged cheddar. You could add some cinnamon and raisins, if you like a sweeter bread. You could add some diced sun-dried tomatoes and chunks of Gruyere. Or chocolate chips and a bit of vanilla. Go crazy here. Clean out the pantry.
But once you’ve mixed in your customizations, it’s time to add in the buttermilk.
Stir this till combined. The dough will barely come together, and there may be unincorporated dry ingredients on the bottom of the bowl. That’s OK.
Lightly dust your countertop with flour, and turn out the dough, along with anything remaining in the bowl.
Dust the top with a bit of flour, and flip it over.
Dust with a bit more flour, and squish the dough together a few times to ensure all the ingredients have been incorporated.
It’s not kneading! It’s just squishing the dough a bit.
OK, it’s a little kneading.
Fold it in thirds, turn a quarter turn, and squish it again.
Do this 6 – 8 times. Takes less than a minute.
Pat the dough into a round domed shape.
Brush the loaf with the remaining 1 Tablespoon of melted butter, and sprinkle with a bit of salt (if you have some sea salt, or other coarse salt, this is the place to use it). Just a pinch or two.
Using a sharp knife, cut an X into the top of the loaf. Maybe 1/2″ deep. This will allow the bread to expand.
Put the loaf on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, or in a pre-heated cast iron pan.
Place in the 375 degree oven for 35 minutes.
Once it’s done, allow the bread to cool for 5 or 10 minutes.
You can then slice and enjoy.
The consistency will be similar to a biscuit. In fact, this would make a great substitute for a biscuit for a weekend breakfast.
But it’s also delicious with a pat or two of butter, and maybe some jam or honey.
You’ve now made bread, without a microbe of yeast.
You’re now a baker.
Congratulations, and enjoy!
*If you don’t have buttermilk, pour 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice into a 1 cup measuring cup. Fill the rest of the way with milk. Let this sit for 5 minutes, then use in the recipe just as you would buttermilk. Easiest substitute hack ever!