Bake Off withdrawal symptoms and soda bread

Inspired to attempt soda bread rolls.

The Great British Bake Off is a big event in our house, so along with 14.7 million others, Wednesday’s final was a source of great excitement.

We squash onto the sofa to watch every installment, worry about timing, sympathise with mistakes, gasp at amazing showstoppers and shout at the screen if we disagree with the judging.

Apart from learning a lot about baking, I think part of the appeal of the Bake Off is the sheer niceness of the contestants. They actually help each other, and support rather than sabotage the other competitors.

During the series, my son wanted “the fireman” to win (Mat), my daughter was rooting for “the young one” (Flora), and my husband was amused by Nadiya’s facial expressions.
However we all thought Nadiya, Ian and Tamal were worthy finalists, and were delighted when Nadiya won.

Who knew baking could be quite so emotional? Ian cried, Nadiya cried, Tamal cried, May Berry stifled a sob and my daughter kept wiping my cheeks convinced I was crying into the cushions. The next morning my Facebook feed was full of weeping watchers.

I thought Nadiya’s amazing acceptance speech was the real tear-jerker:

I’m never going to put boundaries on myself ever again. 
I’m never going to say I can’t do it.
I’m never going to say ‘maybe’.
I’m never going to say ‘I don’t think I can’.
I can and I will.

Much as I love cooking, many of the recipes on the Great British Bake Off are way beyond anything I could ever attempt.

My favourite home-cooked cakes avoid any icing at all, let alone the intricacies of piping bags, weird types of meringue and terrifying trickery with molten sugar.

However, sometimes the series does inspire me to have a go at something I haven’t tried before.
So the morning after the Bake Off final, with Nadiya’s words ringing in my ears, I got up early enough to make my first attempt at…

… soda bread.

OK, it might not reach the technical heights of raspberry mille-feuille with candy cane icing, but it was slightly more suitable for my husband’s packed lunch (we’d run out of bread the night before, and I was reluctant to nip down to the Co-op in case I missed Bake Off…).

Small steps, people,small steps.

I used Jack Monroe’s recipe for “Airy Fairy Easy Peasy Soda Bread“, which also features in her budget recipe book “A Girl Called Jack“.

The recipe is super simple, adding a couple of teaspoons of lemon juice to 200ml milk while you measure out 200g self-raising flour and a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda, before mixing it all into a dough and bunging it in the oven.
I lost my nerve about whether then lemon juice was turning the milk sour, and added an extra teaspoon, which I wouldn’t recommend. However the tip in Jack’s book about splitting the dough into eight pieces, to make rolls which would cook quicker, worked well.

The soda bread rolls were fun. They tasted a bit like scones, but not really, and I can imagine the children enjoying cooking them in future.

My husband ate them with stilton and red onion chutney, and the kids liked them best with butter and jam.

I enjoyed mine with soft cheese and soup, to counter my withdrawal symptoms from the Great British Bake Off.
So there you go. I can and I will…make soda bread. Roll on next year’s series.

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1 Comment

  1. 13th October 2015 / 9:53 am

    They look lovely, how brilliant to make them as rolls instead of one loaf, I've never thought to do that!

    Wednesday will not be the same without Bake Off on the tele …. roll on Masterchef and more 'normal' folk cooking for our entertainment 🙂