Bake Off Bakes: Make our maple bacon, chilli and sweetcorn soda bread
PUBLISHED: 10:00 10 October 2020 | UPDATED: 10:11 10 October 2020
Our group food and drink editor was inspired by ‘bread week’ on the Channel 4 show.
It was bread week on Bake Off on Tuesday night and I was so happy to see them making two of my favourite doughy things – soda bread and bagels (beigels in our house).
Soda bread is incredibly easy to make, so it’s ideal for newbies to the baking world, and children taking their first tentative steps into the kitchen.
A classic soda bread takes minutes to prepare and can be on the table in under an hour. If we’ve got a stew or chilli in the slow cooker mid-week, I often rustle up a slab of this rustic classic for mopping up the juices and, I won’t lie, it does make me feel like somewhat of a domestic goddess!
While I’m a purist when it comes to many dishes, this doesn’t apply to bread. I do love a traditional Irish soda loaf, slathered in salted butter, but there’s a lot of fun to be had with inclusions. A roaring success in our house is soda bread studded with roughly broken chunks of good mature cheddar, which melt into the dough and form crispy frilly crackling at its edges – basically like a giant cheese scone. Brilliant with soup.
The wonderful chef and owner of the world renowned Ballymaloe Cookery School, Darina Allen, has a recipe for the gorgeously-named Spotted Dog (essentially soda bread with dried fruit) that I adore. And her variation of Stripy Cat (made with chocolate pieces) is a regular brunch for my family in the autumn and winter. We eat it straight from the oven, the chocolate streaking through the dough and collecting in pools on our plates, with chocolate spread or the last of the strawberry jam from the back of the fridge. Just add around 200g chocolate chunks to a plain soda bread dough and cook as normal – you won’t regret it.
This week I’ve pimped up my bread with salty bacon chunks fried off in maple syrup, with fresh chilli and fresh British sweetcorn. The corn season here is beginning to come to a close now, so grab those bargainous ears while you can. Mine were only 50p each from a local greengrocer...but as the months march on, that price is going to creep up as overseas corn makes an appearance.
On the side I recommend a flavoured butter. Bring 100g salted butter to room temperature and mash in either a couple of tablespoons of freshly chopped herbs and a crushed clove of garlic, or 1/2tsp smoked paprika, 1/2tsp garlic granules and a pinch of ground cayenne. Any not used up can be wrapped and kept in the fridge for a week, or popped in the freezer. Both are lovely melted over chicken, pork or fish.
Maple bacon, sweetcorn and chilli soda bread
(Makes one large loaf)
450g plain flour
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
350ml buttermilk (or milk soured with 1tbsp lemon juice or vinegar)
1tsp garlic granules
1 fresh chilli finely chopped
150g unsmoked bacon cut into small chunks
2tbsps maple syrup
Nibs from 2 fresh ears of sweetcorn
Oil to fry
Pre-heat the oven to 200C and line a baking sheet.
Place a touch of oil in a frying pan and add the bacon. Fry until golden and crisp and add the sweetcorn and maple syrup. Cook off until the mix is sticky and the syrup no longer runny.
In a large bowl mix the flour, salt, garlic granules and bicarbonate of soda. Make a well in the middle and pour in the buttermilk or milk/vinegar mix and cut in with a knife, mixing until combined. The trick is to not overwork the dough. Add the bacon/sweetcorn and fresh chilli and mix in. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a circle with a depth of about 1.5ins. Place on your prepared baking sheet and cut a cross shape into the top with a sharp knife.
Place the sheet in the preheated oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes until it’s golden, risen and sounds hollow when you tap the bottom.
You should really wait a while before eating- if you cut into it too soon the crumb may be too moist. But I can never resist. After all, you can’t beat fresh-from-the-oven bread.
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