Soggy or heavy Soda Bread :-(

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Maura

Soggy or heavy Soda Bread :-(

Well I have been on here a few times regarding soda bread and have tried all the recipes and suggestions but still the perfect soda bread loaf escapes me.
Before I give up altogether can anyone suggest what I might be doing wrong please?

I have been using 3 parts wholemeal bread flour and 1 part strong white bread flour. 1 tspn salt, 1 tspn bicarb of soda. 1 pint approx buttermilk or plain yoghurt/milk depending on whats available. I have baked in oven on gas mark 4 for varying times but up to an hour if it doesn't seem to be cooked enough. I have had various results -and were quite tasty(apart from one)but all have been a bit on the heavy side and some were decidedly soggy. I have tried baking in a tin and also baking the traditional round. What am I doing wrong?? The internet is full of recipes and ways to bake this bread but I'm running out of patience with myself now. Any help would be so much appreciated.

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soda bread

My immediate thought is that you are using the wrong flour. Soda bread is nearer to a scone mix than a bread dough, and you need to use an ordinary plain flour (whole meal or white), not a strong bread flour.

Wheaten soda is always going to be heavier than white, so perhaps try with white flour first to get the method right.

Method really matters.

1. You need to mix the liquid in quickly and lightly. If you are heavy handed or take too long about it the result will be heavy.

2. Add the liquid by eye. The amount required varies with the flour used, humidity, all sorts really. You want a smooth but not wet dough. A wet dough will take ages to cook and won't rise. A dry dough will be equally heavy with a very hard crust.

3. You must pre heat the oven. Don't even think about starting to mix the dough until it is up to the required temp.

Basically think scones. If you can bake good scones you can make good soda bread!

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Maura

So helpful

Thanks so much ES, the advice seems spot on. I have been using strong bread flour!
Will give it another go using plain white flour.
However - you have found my achilles heel I'm afraid. I'm not that great at scones either :-/

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Maura

Oh really :-(

Thanks for tip - I will look at his recipes as well but was really clinging to the hope that it was using strong bread flour that had caused my problems. If that's not the case then it must be down to my poor technique - bug*er :-/

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soda bread

Why does he use strong bread flour? It doesn't need the gluten as it is bicarb not yeast rise? Cake flour is lighter and gives a better result.

Soda bread is a traditional Irish thing, using a soft flour as high gluten wheat doesn't grow in the emerald isle. I'm Irish, we learn these things from granny :)

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Welshcookie

Soda bread

Maura, is that oven temperature correct? It seems a bit low.

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sandra

Bread

OH has always been the bread maker in this family but thanks to Paul Hollywood I can now produce a decent loaf without using the machine !

Best tip ever use oil not flour on the work surface when kneading.

So I'm with you Bolas - he knows his stuff !!

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Maura

So confusing

Well what a can of worms Soda bread is. I'm fairly certain that ES is correct about the flour as I've read about it before but stupidly forgot and thought strong bread flour would be fine.It's all to do with the climate and not being able to grow the type of wheat that makes strong flour, and the climate certainly hasn't changed. I've always thought that the traditional Irish recipe used just 4 ingrdients. Flour, buttermilk, bread soda, salt. However, I have seen videos on internet of Irish chefs using eggs, cream of tartar and sugar and often all at once so no wonder its confusing.I dont really mind what I use and happy to give them all a try - keeping the birds well fed at this rate but I'm worried they wont be able to take off as bread so heavy ;-)
Maybe the oven temp is a bit low - will try it hotter as suggested and then turn it down for last 20 mins or so.

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Maura

Paul Hollywoods recipe

Just looked at his recipe and he also leaves it to rest for 20 mins!
http://uktv.co.uk/food/recipe/aid/583605
I thought it was essential to work quickly and get bread into oven asap. Something about the way the soda acts with the buttermilk to create the 'rise'. It doesn't last long and therefore needs to be in oven within 5 - 10 mins (so I've read).
This is one of the best sites I've just discovered and I think pretty much sums up Traditional Irish Soda Bread.
http://www.dochara.com/the-irish/food-recipes/irish-soda-bread/

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Darkginger

Soda bread

Being in Ireland, I make soda bread fairly often - I use cup measurements, 'cos it's easy - 2 cups plain flour (not strong bread flour), 2 cups wholewheat flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp bread soda, 1 tbs sugar, 4 tbs melted butter, then enough buttermilk to make a soft dough. Sometimes I add pinhead oatmeal for crunch - or sprinkle it on the top. I bake it in a 9" round pan at 250 degrees for around 30-40 mins.

You can vary the flours - use all plain and no wholemeal if you prefer, or change the ratio of white to brown - you can leave the sugar out (I've often forgotten to add it), ditto the butter - the important ingredients (apart from the flour) are the soda and the buttermilk. I've not tried it with yoghurt (you can buy buttermilk everywhere here), but might give that a go now I've read about it :)

Soda bread is never really 'light' like yeast bread is, but I do enjoy it!

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Paul Hollywoods

I don't doubt that Mr Hollywoods bakes delicious bread, but he's not baking soda bread ;)

Google some of the Irish websites, they are hilarious. People get very hot under the collar about non-legit ingredients. Sour cream.... Sugar.... raisins!!!!!! Don't even think about it.

Personally I'm all for adding whatever you want, after all you are eating it. Strong flour won't help you though, if you're struggling.

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Maura

It's Me :-(

Well another loaf in oven and it smells delicious but I got myself in a right old mess this time so Lord only knows what it will come out like.

I have discovered that I cant stand the sticky dough stage and when it starts to cling to my fingers I cant wait to get it off. It's a very odd feeling and I had no idea until today that it affected me so badly. What a wuss I am :-/
All my other bread is made in my Panasonic Bread maker and as I've already admitted I'm also useless at scones - now I know why.

Unless there is some other way of mixing it I'm stuffed. I doubt there is a clinic anywhere that deals with sticky dough panic syndrome.

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Sticky bread

I think that's answered the problem.

You need a light touch. I cut the buttermilk through with a blunt knife, and only use my hands at the very end to bring the dough together. If it is sticky at that point it is too wet. You really don't want to handle it much, just form it into a ball and pinch out any big cracks (few cracks are fine, so no need to be perfectionist about it).

This is my granny's method, not from a book.... so may not be the approved way. It does work though!

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Maura

Other methods

"I think that's answered the problem.

You need a light touch. I cut the buttermilk through with a blunt knife, and only use my hands at the very end to bring the dough together. If it is sticky at that point it is too wet. You really don't want to handle it much, just form it into a ball and pinch out any big cracks (few cracks are fine, so no need to be perfectionist about it).

Well the bread is heavy even using ordinary flour so it must be me. I have no skill when it comes to handling the dough and just get all flustered. I did see a video showing the soda bread dough being mixed in a KitchenAid mixer for 1 minute and then being finished after removing from bowl so I might try that next time. Also the Irish chef Maurice Keller makes it up quite wet and tips it into little oblong tins for his hotel and when I tried that it came out quite good (one of my better results). I d hate to be beaten so will persevere until I find a method that works for me. Also will get a thermometer for the oven as I'm sure it's not accurate.
Thanks for all your help and recipes - love trying them and so interesting.

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briain

Soggy or Heavy Soda Bread

Here is my recipe which always produces perfect sody bread (as we call it in N.Ireland). The quantities should reflect the number of consumers. It's the PROPORTIONS that matter. My recipe if suitable for two people eating it all up before mould sets in - without eating huges quantities each time!

150g Plain White flour, 150g Wholemeal flour. Sieve the White and add the wholemeal. Stir thoroughly with a fork. Add one quarter tspoon salt, one heaped tspoon sodium bicarbonate (NOT anything labelled "Baking Powder"). Stir thoroghly. Start oven set to 200 deg C Fan, 210 deg C non-fan. Stir about 15 ml olive oil into about 200 ml buttermilk and stir a little as you add each part to the mixture. Stir the developing dough with a big spoon until you have a soft dry-ish non-sticky dough. You may find that you don't need all the liquid. Turn dough out onto floured surface and work lightly for 20 seconds only. Make into a ball which you flatten gently into an eight-or-so inch disc. Cut right across the middle both ways with a sharp knife to about one third of the depth so it looks like four quarter sections. Transfer by sliding onto a flat floured baking tray. Dust top lightly with flour. Place on middle shelf of oven for THIRTY minutes. Then place on a wire grill and cover with a well-wrung damp tea-towel. You can start eating after about half an hour! From beginning to end the mixing and baking should only take FORTY MINUTES. (Use the wholemeal flour for surfaces and dusting).

 
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