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3 bread recipes that are WAY simpler than sourdough

At this point, I think its fair to say most of us are totally sourdoughed out of it. 

While we truly love sourdough, the energy and time kneaded (get it? hehe) to make a sourdough loaf is simply too much. If you love to bake and eat fresh bread but are not bothered feeding a sourdough starter for a week and then spend nearly 12 hours prepping your dough before you even get to stick the loaf in the oven, you’ve come to the right place. Here are three easy and much quicker bread recipes that everyone in your pod will thank you for.

1. Soda Bread 

This bread can be made in roughly 30 minutes. It requires no long proofing, no kneading and no fancy ingredients and is delicious. This recipe uses a combination of white and whole-grain flour. You can also add extra ingredients like cheese, wild garlic, raisins or even chocolate chips to the dough if you’re feeling a bit mad.

Ingredients

  • 200g of whole grain flour.
  • 275g strong white/plain white flour
  • 350ml buttermilk
  • 1 large tsp of bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 large egg (free-range)
  • A large pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp sugar or honey

Method:

  • Preheat your oven to 190°C/375°F/gas 5.
  • Combine the whole grain and white flour in a large mixing bowl, add the salt, sugar and bicarbonate of soda and mix. 
  • In a separate bowl or mixing jug, crack and add the egg to the buttermilk and whisk to combine.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and mix with a wooden spoon until it starts to come together. If the dough is too wet you can add a few pinches of flour.
  • Use your hands to shape the dough into an oval ball - do not knead the dough as overworking may lead to a dense and tough bread. Place the dough onto a lightly floured baking tray and score the top of the bread in a cross pattern. 
  • Place in the oven and cook for 35 minutes or until nice and golden-brown.
  • Place on a wire rack and allow to cool. The base of the bread should sound hollow when tapped if the bread is ready. 
  • Eat with soup, some butter or whatever you like!

2. White loaf (yeast bread)

This bread does require some kneading and proofing but not nearly as much as sourdough. This bread makes incredible toasties, sandwiches or perfect with just butter. The sachet of yeast required can be found in almost all major supermarkets and the rest of the ingredients you probably have already in the house. This is one of my all-time favourite breads and my little one would gobble up most of it on her own if left to her own devices.

Ingredients

  • 440g Strong bread flour / plain white flour
  • 175g lukewarm water
  • 120g Whole milk
  • 20g Sugar
  • 8g Salt
  • 40g Real butter (softened / room temperature)
  • x1 7g Sachet instant dried yeast.

Method

  • Add the full sachet of yeast to the tepid water and milk (if milk is too cold bring it to room temp first)
  • Add 5g of the sugar to feed the yeast then stir and allow the yeast to reactivate (bloom) for 10 minutes.
  • Once the yeast is bloomed and is slightly bubbly, add the flour, sugar and salt to a large mixing bowl. 
  • Add the yeast mixture and begin to mix with a spoon. 
  • When a shaggy dough begins to form rub in the butter until thoroughly combined.
  • Once the dough starts to come together, place it onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes. 
  • Shape the dough into a smooth ball and place in a large, well-oiled bowl. Cover with oiled cling film and allow to proof (rest) for 1 to 1 ½ hours or until doubled in size.
  • Once doubled, knock the dough down and place onto a floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangle, as wide as your loaf tin and about ½ an inch thick. Tightly roll this rectangle into a log and place seam side down, into the well-greased loaf tin. 
  • Cover this with either a damp warm tea towel or an inverted loaf tin and proof for another 45 minutes / 1 hour.
  • Cook in the middle of an oven at 190°C/375°F/gas 5 for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and hollow-sounding when tapped. 
  • Allow to cool fully on a wire rack and enjoy!

Focaccia 

More of a meal, this versatile Italian-style bread can be made with a variety of additional ingredients or toppings. Crisp on the outside but fluffy on the inside, focaccia can be made into sandwiches but is even better fresh out of the oven as an alternative to garlic bread or to help mop up sauces in a meal. The recipe is also very forgiving as far as bread goes:

Ingredients

  • 500g strong bread flour (plain white flour will work also) 
  • X1 7g Sachet of dried instant yeast
  • Olive oil
  • 300ml lukewarm water
  • Pinch of sugar
  •  Sea salt

Optional ingredients / toppings

  • Cherry tomatoes / sundried tomatoes and basil
  • Wild garlic
  • Thyme, rosemary and garlic.

Method

  • Add the yeast and a pinch of sugar to the water, stir and let rest for 5-10 minutes to bloom.
  • Place the flour and ½ tablespoon of salt into a large mixing bowl. Once the yeast mixture is bubbly, add it and 25ml of olive oil to the flour and mix with a spoon until a shaggy dough is formed.
  • Place the dough onto a floured work surface and knead well for 5 minutes to form a smooth and springy dough. Form the dough into a ball.
  • Place the ball into a well-oiled bowl, cover with oiled cling film or a warm damp tea towel and proof for 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
  • Once doubled, get a high walled baking tray and drizzle it with olive oil and sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Then place the dough into the baking tray and use your fingers to spread the dough out so that it covers the bottom of the baking tray. If the dough is too springy and won’t stay stretched, allow it to rest for 5 minutes.
  • Once the dough covers the tray, sprinkle more olive oil (30ml or so) on top and make dimples in the dough by pressing your fingers down into the dough. 
  • At this point, you can add additional toppings such as cherry tomatoes and basil or garlic and thyme or even wild garlic.  You can also simply use rosemary and sea salt, there are no rules really! Make sure to press the added ingredients into the dough with your fingers. 
  • Sprinkle sea salt over top and then cover the dough with a warm damp tea towel and allow it to proof for another 40 minutes.
  • After 40 minutes, place the tray into a preheated 190°C (375°F/gas 5) oven and bake for 25 minutes
  • Take out of the oven and drizzle olive oil over top. 
  • Cut and enjoy!

With her daughter Evie as her muse, Anna writes about mumhood and all its intersections from mental health to movies, social issues to pop culture. Anna lives in Dublin with her daughter, partner, three younger sisters and parents. She is a dreadful cook, a fair guitar player and thinks caffeine should be given as a yearly vaccine to parents - courtesy of the HSE.

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