Mediterranean soda bread

Occasionally, here in Sardinia, the supply of focaccia and the local ‘music sheet’ bread dries up and only rather uninteresting rolls remain.

A solution, then, is to make your own bread, but the concept of kneading is against my principles, so a quick solution is soda bread. At Christmas we make a wholemeal, seeded variety to go with smoked salmon. But that seems a bit heavy for Italy in the spring. Something using the local ingredients – pecorino cheese, tomatoes, basil – seems to be more the thing, and the best recipe I could find for tomato bread is in Claire Thompson’s excellent specialist book, Tomato.

I’ve adapted it (as Thompson encourages her readers to do) and I continue to change the ingredients to suit the season and the place (in Switzerland I would use Gruyère; in England maybe Lincolnshire Poacher). Tomatoes are only just coming into season here. A month or two ago I might have substituted the fresh tomato with black or green olives… or capers maybe. If I didn’t have basil, I would try the chives that Thompson favours… or perhaps some thyme, or sage. In the depths of winter I might use dried oregano, or nigella seeds.

You can get ahead by mixing the dry ingredients well ahead of time, and keeping them in a jar.

It warms up quite well the following day, briefly, in a hot oven – you really only want to crispen up the crust and warm the interior. Alternatively, wrap in clingfilm and keep out of the fridge for a couple of days. Then slice and fry on a griddle.

Other wonderful soda breads are the wholemeal seeded variety I mention above – the Classic Irish soda bread; and also Walnut, Porridge Oats, and Spelt soda bread.

Prepared loaf just off to the oven.
This post is dedicated to Marion Hirsch.
cheese and tomato soda bread recipe
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