Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sweet Potato Irish Soda Bread

I absolutely love dense, heavy artisan-bakery style bread but it is much too expensive - half a loaf of a good sourdough at the market is $6.80! So I usually end up with a soft, squishy rye bread which looks enticingly healthy but is actually just fluff and air - much cheaper but infinitely inferior. Making my own bread didn't occur to me because it sounded too time consuming.

But! Soda bread doesn't take long at all, as it bypasses the yeast and waiting business. It also has a nice, dense texture reminiscent of scones or damper and can be varied in much the same way as yeast bread. I found a good recipe in an old Women's Weekly and added in some mashed sweet potato to liven it up a bit. I found a big sweet potato hiding in the back of the cupboard and wanted to use it before it went bad. That's my new thing - using EVERYTHING in the cupboard, finding a way to use up all sorts of bits and pieces in interesting ways.

This bread was very popular with my housemates and the various visitors we had in the few days it was around. It's very filling and very easy. Next time I think I'll make a version with sunflower seeds and perhaps some spices. I wanted to take a photo of it when it came out of the oven as it looked so perfect, but couldn't get any photographic device to work, and couldn't fathom leaving the house to get more batteries before I tried some!

Sweet Potato Irish Soda Bread

1 large sweet potato, boiled and mashed
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 2/3 cups wholemeal flour
2 1/2 cups white flour
buttermilk, approx 2 cups

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

Mix all ingredients in large bowl until they come together as a dough - gradually adding buttermilk as you go. Add more buttermilk if needed, or more flour if it gets too sticky. (Again, I used a baking tray because I strangely do not have a large bowl!). Form dough into a 20cm round.

Grease a large flat baking tray. Sit dough on top, cut a cross shaped slit into the top, about 1cm deep. Brush dough with a bit of milk - it gives it a nice crust.

Bake in the oven for 50 mins - 1 hour.

All done!

Note to vegans: you could use soy milk instead of buttermilk. I'd probably use milk instead of buttermilk anyway because using buttermilk substantially ups the price of this baked product, as it costs around $2.50 for 500 ml. I think soy or cow milk would work just as well, and I will try it next time. One of the main ideas behind these baking adventures is economy!

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