Also an experiment in baking with two smalls at once!
I don't know what it is, but since designing October's recipe subscription back in August I've had a very healthy love affair with pumpkin seeds. It helps that smallest small also adores them. 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 a fine, but blustery autumn afternoon. I'm feeling particularly wholesome today. We've been for a stomp welly walk through the fields to our village coffee morning where the smalls delight the fabulous older folk and I eat cake I didn't make and get a hot cup of tea made for me. We collected blackberries on the way home and ate lunch in the garden. 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. You could easily make this recipe plain, but it's also easy to add whatever flavours your little ones particularly enjoy. I wanted to make something autumnal to enjoy with simple soup for tea.
As this bake is so simple I decided to have a go at baking with both smalls simultaneously. 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. 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 smalls it's all about getting them involved - 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 look great plonked on a baking tray in a big fat ball, or shaped simply. As we're playing along with #oursensoryjungle 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 soda
80g grated cheese of your choice
3tbsp pumpkin seeds
350ml milk soured with the juice of half a lemon (or use buttermilk)
1. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl then add the milk a little at a time, mixing until a dough forms. If you feel the dough is too wet you can stop adding the milk or 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.
You can buy cheap, plastic dough cutters / bread scrapers, but they don't last very long. Something like this is a decent investment and useful for various things.