Tag Archives: Bread Recipes

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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Yoghurt-Free Wholemeal Flatbreads

These yoghurt-free flatbreads are just the ticket to liven up an improvised meal such as beef kofte or chicken shawarma, when you have a bit of mince or chicken around but little else by way of fresh ingredients – a situation I found myself in earlier this week on the last evening before we made it into Kelso for groceries.

Charles and I both adore flatbreads as they are a very quick and easy way to add weight and texture and pull together a meal out of what may seem like unrelated ingredients without them.  Being fresh and homemade, of course, they are always warm and delicious too. You may have seen our really easy flatbread recipe already (which has been so popular I had to make my parents a double batch to take home with them the last time they visited), which is also very quick and easy and produces delightfully fluffy breads, but we generally need some planning ahead if we’re having them as they rely on you having some fresh yoghurt in the house.

The lack of said fresh yoghurt gave birth to these even speedier flatbreads, which are more of a sort of chapatti wrap texture. Mealy, warm and pliable, they are nevertheless delicious with some meat, salad and something to dip into (had ours with beef kofta, rice and mango and tomato chutneys), and require very simple ingredients. You can even make them with 100% plain flour if you don’t have any wholemeal to hand, or vice versa.  This recipe will make 4 good-sized breads, so double up if you’re having friends over.

Yoghurt-Free Wholemeal Flatbreads

Yoghurt-Free Wholemeal Flatbreads

Ingredients

  • 150g plain flour
  • 150g wholemeal flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 50g butter
  • 185ml water
  • a small amount of garlic oil (or any other cooking oil)

Instructions

  1. Grab a small saucepan and weigh out the butter and water. Set it over a medium heat and leave it there until the butter has completely melted, stirring together. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
  2. In a bowl, weigh out the flour and salt.
  3. Add the melted butter and water and mix together. It's easiest with your hands but it will be a pretty warm dough to start with so you could use a large spoon if you would prefer. Mix and knead together until combined into a ball and set aside covered with a tea towel or cling film for half an hour.
  4. Split the dough into 4 smaller balls, lightly flour a flat clean surface and flatten each ball in turn before rolling out to a couple of mm thick. If you don't have a rolling pin, a wine bottle will do!
  5. Set your largest frying pan on a medium to high heat and add a little oil to the pan. When that's nice and hot, add each rolled out flatbread in turn and cook for a couple of minutes on each side, or until nicely brown in places. Try not to overcook them, though, as that will result in a stiffer, less pliable flatbread, so keep an eye on making sure the pan doesn't get too hot, and add a little oil to the pan between each bread to make sure there is plenty of moisture.
  6. And there you have your flatbreads!
  7. Enjoy! Told you they were easy....
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Really Easy Flatbreads

One of my favourite meals is made-up of some sort of spiced meat, a fresh crunchy salad, a delicious dip or chutney and some sort of flatbread or pitta. It does make for a messy way of eating, but who doesn’t like to get their hands a bit dirty every now and again? It feels like a really basic but delicious way to eat; every bite slightly different.

These flatbreads are great in that sort of setting, or make a really impressive replacement for naan bread if you want to make your own but don’t have the time for yeast to get involved. If you wanted to serve them up as a side dish, give them some herby or garlic butter and serve warm. They’re simple to make too, with the most time consuming part being cooking them (which is why I’ve kept the recipe small) but if you’re having a party you won’t mind the extra time to double or triple the quantities. Now I want to eat more of these….

Onto the recipe!

To make 6, you will need:

175g self-raising flour

175g Greek yoghurt

Pinch salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

You’ll also need a bowl, a knife and a griddle pan. You can use a rolling pin if you want but I think spreading them out by hand leaves them looking a bit more rough and ready (which is what you want from a flatbread).

1. Weigh out the flour, salt and baking powder in a nice large bowl.  

2. Add the yoghurt and mix everything together, kneading gently until the ingredients form a nice dough. Don’t overwork it though. Think pastry, not bread.

3. Flour a clean board or worktop and roll the dough into 6 even balls. Flatten them with your hands or a rolling pin to about 1/4 cm thick.   4. Optionally, use a small, sharp knife to score shallow width-wide lines along the length of the bread and gently oil.

  5. Put a dry griddle pan on a high heat hob, then place one bread in at a time. When they bubble on the up-facing side, like below, turn and cook on the other side. They will only need a few minutes, until a little puffed up.

  6. When the lines look like this on each side, remove from the heat and set aside. Repeat with the rest of the breads.

Serve with flavoured butter or lots of tasty toppings!

Simple Granary Loaf

There have been a great many things written about bread. Historically, that it is the most basic, humble foodstuff for feeding your family. Yet, recently, it has become the enemy. Bread: the most widely available source of that dreaded carb. Even I, in my quest for a wedding day figure, have started to see bread as an aggressor – a temptation which guarantees to widen the hips and bloat the belly. But, when we cut through the white noise, the gluten-free propaganda, the debate isn’t really about bread itself, but about the quality and source of the bread we’re eating. 

  how to make granary bread 

So, let’s reduce the quantity, yes, everything in moderation, but increase the quality. The price and the freshness, in fact, of real quality bread will actually help to reduce the quantity you eat, in my opinion, especially if you make your own. It’s not an easy thing, making your own bread, and it’s something I haven’t yet perfected, after years of home baking. But I’m keeping with it. This recipe isn’t the best bread recipe you’ll find, but it is a nice simple one which will produce a delicious home-baked loaf with a cracking crust.    

 You will need:

500g granary bread flour (I used this one by Hovis)

7g fast-action yeast 

1 1/4 tsp salt 

2 tsp caster sugar 

25g butter 

300ml warm water 
 

1. Weigh the flour out into a large bowl.

  
2. Add the yeast to one side of the bowl and the sugar and salt to the other. If you just chuck the salt on top of the yeast it’s likely to kill it, then you would get no rise.

  
3. Add the butter. Mix the yeast into the flour on its half and the salt and sugar to the flour on their half (to dilute them and stop them killing each other off) then rub the butter into the whole mixture, making sure all the spiked flour ends up mixed together. 

    
4. Add about 3/4 of the water, and start to mix everything together. When you’re starting to get a consistent texture, add a little more, until it’s all combined without being too sticky a mess. A lesser known rule of bread-making is “the wetter the better”. 

 
5. Lightly flour your worktop (assuming it is clean). Don’t necessarily be tempted to use the same flour, however. I often use plain string white bread flour for this because I got fed up being short of the good flour the next time I went to use it. Bread flour is almost always sold in 1kg or 1.5kg bags, so if your recipe calls for 500g plus some for the board, you will inevitably go short!

  
6. Tip the dough onto the floured surface, and now you’re ready to knead. If you have a strong food mixer with a dough hook, it can be used to do the kneading for you. If you don’t, be prepared for 20 minutes of elbow grease!

  
7. To knead by hand, the aim is get lots of strength and movement into the dough to make the dough stretchy by developing the gluten in the flour. The opposite of what you’re trying to do making a cake or pastry. I’m afraid it’s rather difficult to pr odd accurate photos of something I usually use two hands to do, but I’ll do my best to explain! In the picture above, I’m pushing the top half of the dough away from me, whilst also pushing the hell of my hand down towards the worktop. Normally, I also pin the bottom half down with my other hand, increasing the tension on the middle part being stretched, but I can’t do that and take a photo at the same time.

  
8. Roll the dough back towards you into a ball, and repeat, kneading vigorously for around 20 minutes. You’ll start to feel the dough’s structure change as the gluten forms and the yeast starts to do its work. The dough will become a bit for uniform, more structured, and more pillowy. To test your dough, roll it into a ball and gently press it with your finger. If it bounces back, it’s ready. If not, give it another 5 minutes of kneading and try again. If you’re finding it boring, stick something on Netflix in front of you, or put some music on, put some welly into it and give yourself a bit of cardio. You’re not doing it right unless your knees are soft and your hips and getting involved!

  
9. When you’re happy with the dough, (readiness and feel will come in time and with practice, don’t worry) you need to roll it into a ball by pulling from the sides and tucking it underneath, turning and repeating until the top is nice and stretched. There are lots of videos kicking about if you’re struggling with this.

  
10. Pop it back in the bowl and gently oil or flour the top to stop it sticking, then tightly cling film. Now you leave it alone for an hour to an hour and a half, letting it prove (or rise) until doubled in size. If it’s a particularly cold room or day, it may take a little longer. Just let it do its thing. 

  
11. Next, you need to knock it back. Peel off the cling film, punch it in the face, give it a quick knead and turn it under into a loaf shape. Put it into a loaf tin and cover again, before letting it rise a final time for about an hour,or until it has doubled in size a bit. This was a bit of a guest loaf tin so don’t worry if yours fits more snugly.

  
12. Get the oven preheating to 200c fan and put the top shelf down out of the way. Slip a deep baking tray into the bottom of the oven, unless, like me, you have a grill pan shelf which lives in there. You’re just giving yourself a place to hold water later.

  
13. When the dough is ready and the oven is hot, slash the top of the loaf with a sharp knife, is whatever pattern you choose. Like kneading and shaping, this has become a sort of bakery art form so again it will come with practice. (Sorry o forgot to take a photo!). Shove the loaf in the oven and chuck a cup of water into the tray or grill pan. This will create steam to help the bread rise as well as giving you an epic crust. 

  

  
14. Bake for around half an hour in the centre of the oven, until the loaf is crusty but not burnt and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. 

  
Enjoy fresh and warm for maximum satisfaction, then slice up and freeze the leftovers. It makes excellent toast!

  

Soda Bread (or bread for impatient people)

Sometimes you want decent bread, made at home, but you don’t have the best part of an afternoon to make it. Well, help is at hand!

This takes about 40 minutes to make and is absolutely delicious with soup, salad and cold meat, pâté or butter and jam.   

You will need:

170g self-raising flour

170g wholemeal flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda 

290ml buttermilk

  
 
  1. Preheat the oven to 200c making sure the shelf is low enough to fit the loaf in the oven! 

 
  2. Weigh out the flours, bicarb and salt and mix together.  
  3. Add in the buttermilk. Hint: the carton I bought was 284ml but it gave me 290. Mr Brooker suggested adding a dollop of yoghurt but I didn’t need to in the end. It’s a good plan if you’re running short though.  
  4. Mix everything together with your hands, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl for any spare flour. Do not over knead! 
  5. Remember that this is an unyeasted bread so please don’t over work it. You just need to knead it until it has formed a consistent dough. Roll into a ball, flatten and place on a floured baking sheet or stone. (Hilariously I just thought about using a baking stone…ah well…next time). I just added baking parchment to make cleaning up easier – it’s not essential.  
  6. Cut a cross into the bread, fairly deep so it will bloom out nicely. This is easiest if you make 4 separate cuts.  
  7. Sprinkle the top with flour (I added a sprinkle of rolled oats as well but that’s optional) and bake for around 30 minutes until hollow sounding when you tap it on the bottom. I’d advise leaving it to cool for 10 minutes or so to let the residual heat move through the bread and prevent doughiness. 
   Enjoy fresh, or toast the next day.

Flour Tortillas (Go on, have a go)

If you think making tortillas is a waste of time, a hassle, too much effort, think again! Ok, it will take you a bit of time if you make a large batch, but it’s upfront time recouped when you can enjoy the leftovers from the freezer for weeks to come. If you’re pushed for time, make a smaller batch. The texture and flavour of these is a good couple of worlds away from anything you buy wrapped in plastic in the supermarket. They go stale much faster, but can be warmed up again in an oven (sprinkled with a little water) or microwave. The texture is almost like a very think flatbread, slightly flaky, but soft and light.  Though if you eat them around something hot and liquidy, like chilli, prepare to get messy as the delicate middle can split under pressure! 

You will need (for 8-10 tortillas):

400g plain flour

1 tbsp butter

1 tsp baking powder 

Good pinch salt

175ml boiling water

 

1. Measure out the flour and rub in the butter, like you’re making shortcrust pastry or crumble topping. 

2. As the baking powder and salt and mix in.

3. Pour in the hot water. Leave for a minute or so and then knead together. Be careful here. The dough will be really hot. If you can’t touch it relatively comfortably, allow it to sit until it cools a little. 

 

4. Knead well until the dough is smooth and elastic. Oil and place back in the bowl. Cover with cling film and allow to rest for half an hour. 

  
 

5. Once settled, flour a clean dry surface and grab a smallish ball of dough, squash and roll out to 1-2mm thin. 

 
   6. Repeat until all rolled out. 

 
  7. Heat a large, flat pan on a pretty high heat and add the rolled out dough one piece at a time. Once bubbles appear on the surface of one side, flip over to cook the other side.  
  8. The result should look like this; a bit like a piebald pony.  Keep warm inside a hot tea towel or leave to cool.  

I wouldn’t recommend keeping these for more than 2 days without freezing them because they’ll go stale, and they can be rewarmed with a few minutes in a hot oven with a sprinkle of water.

Serve with fajitas or my beef or turkey chilli with sour cream and guacamole.