Walnut, porridge oats and spelt soda bread
“I bake wholemeal spelt bread because I enjoy the taste. It takes me 15 minutes to use 1 kg flour with 1 litre of water to make two loaves. I then wait 40 minutes for it to rise and then bake for 40 minutes. I am 85 and do this easy job every 7 to 10 days.”Roger King, commenting on the The Baker blog
I agree with Roger King about the taste of spelt. It works surprisingly well in the no-knead bread we make in a Dutch oven.
The Baker, an experimental blog about breadmaking is the brainchild of a scientifically-minded gent called Adi – it’s packed with fascinating, useful, and painstakingly researched information. The comment from Mr King is made to a post about the pros and cons of wheat versus spelt. I was a bit disillusioned (bearing in mind it is wokely ancient) to discover that, in nutritional terms at least, spelt is no better for you than wheat. Rye is the thing apparently.
The problem with rye is that it can produce a loaf which could double as a murder weapon. Jamie Oliver solves this by cutting in wholemeal wheat flour as well as porridge oats into his rye soda bread – a method I have yet to try. But incorporating porridge oats (wheat flour has a much higher glycemic index than oat) can only be a good thing from a health perspective.
And, another fact I was bearing in mind was that one of the most successful additions to Frances McDonagh’s Loch Key soda bread, set out on this blog, is the walnuts.
So a soda bread which includes spelt for taste, porridge oats for texture and health, and walnuts for a flourish must surely be a thing of beauty and a joy forever!
And it is, especially since soda bread doesn’t need Mr King’s 15 minutes of kneading.
This version is based on one provided by Sarah Standing, and published in her friend, Skye McAlpine’s, A Table For Friends. They recommend serving “with lashings of butter embedded with salt flakes”.
The final great thing about this Saucy Dressings’ version is that you can mix all the dry ingredients together and keep them in a jar, waiting for the wet ingredients to be added at the last minute. The dry-ingredient-filled jar also makes a good present; all the giftee has to do is add the wet ingredients. Tie a big ribbon around the jar, and give it together with a selection of interesting cheeses.
Once made, you can slice and freeze this bread very successfully, but it’s crumbly so don’t put it in a toaster – instead warm on a griddle, or, if you are lucky enough to have an Aga, use the Aga toast rack.
But it’s best of all, like most bread, eaten warm, from the oven.
Recipe for walnut, porridge oats and spelt soda bread
Serves – 5
- 500g/4 cups wholemeal spelt flour
- 50g/½ cup porridge oats
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 240 ml/1 cup milk
- 1 tbsp lemon juice, or you can use vinegar
- 240ml/1 cup plain yoghurt
- 1 tbsp runny honey, you can also, as Mr King does, use agave nectar
- 95g/¾ cup chopped walnuts
- Rosemary, about three stems about 2”/5 cm long (optional)
- If you are using rosemary, take the rosemary leaves off the stems by taking the tip of a stem firmly between the finger and thumb of one hand and drawing the finger and thumb of the other down over the leaves. Chop.
- Use about ¼ cup/4 tbsps of the flour for flouring a board (and your hands), or if you are making this later, save about that amount and put it to one side. Mix together the rest of the flour, oats, salt, bicarbonate of soda, chopped rosemary and the walnuts all together. At this stage you can put the dry mix in a jar and keep it until required.
- When you are ready to make the bread, add the lemon juice or vinegar to the milk (you are making buttermilk) in whatever bowl or jug you’ve measured it out in.
- Preheat the oven to 180°
- Put the dry ingredients into a big mixing bowl and make a well. Add the yoghurt and honey into the well, then add the buttermilk you’ve just made. Stretch out your hand over the bowl like an arthritic witch or wizard, and start mixing the dry flour mixture around the outside onto the liquid in the middle.
- Once it starts to hold together put it on the floured board and shape it into a ball.
- Oil a round metal baking sheet. Put the dough on the tray, flatten the bottom out a touch to give a stable base and make a couple of deep slits in the shape of a cross over the top. To find out why, go to this post and look at step 9, it’s all to do with the devil being practical…. Dust with any flour remaining on the board.
- Bake for about 50 minutes. When it’s ready you should be able to tap its hard crust and it will sound hollow. Also it will be a lovely tawny golden colour.