Updated: Oct 8, 2020
A super easy bake for kids, this was also an experiment in baking with two at once!
Soda bread is quick, easy, flexible bake and once you've made it a few times you will feel confident enough to swap ingredients in and out to make loaves with your favourite tasty bits in the mix. Personally, I can't get enough pumpkin seeds in the Autumn and that's why they feature heavily on most of the October and November recipe subscriptions.
Smallest small also adores them. Always had. He'll play with them for ages and eat them in fistfuls! Seeing as it's bread week on 'The Great British Bake Off' and due to the fact that we currently have no bread in the bread bin, I thought we'd give some soda bread a go on blustery autumn afternoon. Soda bread is the perfect bake for comfy days like this. There's something earthy about it. It's robust and delicious - full of flavour and looks just the right amount of 'rustic' as to be pleasing on the kitchen table.
When I first made this easy-bake bread it was one of the first times I baked with both children at once. I set the bake up slightly differently for both. The baby had all of the ingredients pre-weighed into a washing up bowl. He got stuck in straight away mixing and swirling. Eventually I gave him a hand to bring it together and shape it onto his baking tray. Meanwhile, the toddler had pre-weighed ingredients in separate bowls and some element of choice as to what to put in the dough - another thing that makes this an easy bake, the ingredients can go in the bowl in any order. In the end though she didn't fancy baking, so the baby did both loaves in his washing up tub and it worked like a dream. Remember, when you're baking with the very small children it's all about getting them involved rather than completing a bake perfectly from start to finish. It is part of their play; experiencing textures, tastes and equipment. I honestly believe that the earlier you start the easier baking will be in the more 'enthusiastic' toddler years.
The other great boon of soda bread is that it can be shaped any way you like. It looks great shaped or plonked on a baking tray in a big fat ball. As we were playing along with #oursensoryjungle at the time we chose a paw print, which had the added bonus on producing a slicing loaf and three tear off rolls. The only important thing to remember is to make the cross on the top of the bread with a dough scraper or sharp knife. These cross markings need to be nice and deep so the dough will rise without splitting. Although, traditionally this is said to have been done to let the devil out!
Autumnal Soda Bread
500g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
80g grated cheese of your choice
3tbsp pumpkin seeds
350ml milk soured with the juice of half a lemon (or use yoghurt or buttermilk)
1. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl, mixing until a dough forms. If the dough is too wet to bring together you can add a little more flour.
2. Put the rolled ball of dough onto a floured baking sheet and make a cross with a sharp knife or bread scraper deep into the dough, stopping just before you cut through.
3. Bake the loaf at 180° for 30 minutes. The loaf will sound hollow when you tap it if it's nicely done. Cool on a wire rack then tear and share.
N.B. If you are using the all in one washing up bowl method, you will end up with a very wet mix because all of the milk goes in at once. When you reclaim the bowl to shape the dough you will almost certainly need to cover it in some more flour until you can ball it up.