THEMES & VARIATIONS

After my success earlier in the week with Nigella's wheaty soda buns, and the happy memories they evoked of my summer holiday in Ireland, I had a go at a whole loaf this morning, as I fancied a slice of straight-from-the-oven-hot soda bread for breakfast. As I said in the Nigella's Buns post, the great thing about soda bread is the speed of its production. Admittedly the circumstances were not ideal this morning, as I was simultaneously mixing the ingredients and trying to unblock the sink (what an exciting life I lead!), while dressed in my most unsexy nightie, and Ugg boots.

The resulting dough mix looked decidedly dodgy: far too liquidy, so I chucked in some more flour and then poured the mixture onto a sheet of Bake-O-Glide. It spread alarmingly and immediately took on the appearance of a pale brown cow-pat. I decided I would have yoghurt for breakfast instead.

However, after 20 mins cooking, a lovely aroma was rising from the oven and the cow-pat was now cooked, with a lovely burnished crust and an encouraging lightness when I lifted it from the baking sheet and onto a cooling rack. Unable to resist, I broke off the nose of the loaf and smeared it with unsalted French butter (my favourite). Heaven! I greedily tore off the other end, repeated the process, made myself a mug of Lapsang Souchong tea, and returned to my bed for half an hour, to check my email and blog about art and life and food.....

There is half a can of Guinness in the fridge, just begging to be made into more soda bread, so later on, when I have finished teaching, I will make another batch of Nigella's buns for supper. The ingredients for a whole soda loaf are exactly the same as those for the buns.

My curiosity about soda bread is now thoroughly piqued and so I would be interested to hear of variations on the main theme. For example, fruited soda breads? Suggestions please, readers.

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