Bacon and Onion Soda Bread

This deliciously comforting bacon and onion soda bread is the first white flour soda bread I’ve made.  I have to admit to having my doubts as wholemeal soda bread topped with oats is such a mealy, tasty treat that I couldn’t quite imagine the same depth of flavour from a white flour, but when you’ve used up your wholemeal flour but you want to whip up a quick bread to serve up with your chicken and chorizo cassoulet, what are you to do?  It turns out that white soda bread offers a deliciously crunchy crust and a soft texture, and is the perfect vehicle for adding flavour to in the form of additional ingredients, such as onion, bacon, fresh herbs and cheese.  Much like this recipe!  And it turns out that you can earn a decent quota of wife points from serving up bread with bacon in it….

This recipe is so quick and simple – no intense kneading necessary – and you can change up the ingredients to whatever you prefer or have to hand – cheese and onion alone would be pretty tasty.  The only essential ingredients are the flour and buttermilk, so make sure you have those ready.  This bread is delicious to serve up with a hearty soup or stew on a cold night, and is also lovely warmed up again for the next couple of days.

Bacon and Onion Soda Bread

Bacon and Onion Soda Bread

Ingredients

  • 4 rashers smoked bacon
  • 1/2 large onion, or 1 whole small onion, sliced
  • 450g plain white flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 25g cold butter
  • 350ml buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, chives, thyme and tarragon
  • Around 75g grated hard cheese, such as parmesan or cheddar

Instructions

  1. First, prepare the flavourings for the bread by frying off the bacon until crisp, and then gently cooking the sliced onions until soft in the bacony pan. Once the bacon is cool, slice it into chunks or strips, small enough to mix into the bread but not so big that they're more than a mouthful.
  2. Preheat the oven to 210c fan. Slip a baking sheet into the middle of the oven to preheat to help your bread to form a beautiful crust.
  3. Measure out the flour, bicarb and salt into a large bowl and mix together. Now cube the butter and add to the bowl, rubbing it into the flour as if you were making a batch of scones.
  4. Chop the herbs and add to the mixture along with the onion and bacon at this stage as they can more easily be mixed through the dough.
  5. Mix together and then make a well in the centre for the buttermilk to be poured into. Pour in the buttermilk and mix everything together, kneading gently until everything has just come together to form a consistent dough which is just holding together.
  6. Form into a ball and flatten into a round, then cut a large cross into the top.
  7. Place onto the preheated baking sheet (careful now!) and bake for around 40-45 minutes, until crisp on the outside and hollow-sounding when knocked.
  8. Enjoy with lashings of butter and something wintery and delicious.
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