Spelt Soda Bread

This is based on Dan Lepard’s Waterford soda bread recipe from his book “The Handmade Loaf”.  In turn I believe the provenance of this is from a recipe created by Michael Power a baker from County Wexford. The really nice thing about this recipe is that it manages to produce a moist loaf that keeps well until the next day. Usually, to be at its best, soda bread has to be eaten warm pretty much straight out of the oven or within hours at most.

I particularly like the flavour of spelt flour so I use all stoneground spelt flour or sometimes 50/50 spelt flour and wholemeal flour. 

I also like the idea of a square loaf, I guess you could use a standard circular cake tin but squares are easy to slice and look interesting on the breadboard.

Spelt Soda Bread Recipe
300g Bacheldre Watermill Organic Stoneground Spelt
200g buttermilk
200g semi-skimmed milk
50g fine oatmeal (I blitzed some porridge oats in the food processor until fine)
30g oatbran or porridge oats (oatbran produces a nice crunchy finish but oats are ok too)
20g salted butter
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Butter a 7″ square loose bottomed pan, flour the pan with spelt flour and sprinkle a layer of oatbran or oats on the base. Pre-heat oven to 210°C.

Mix oatmeal and spelt together and rub in the butter. Mix in the bicarb., sugar and salt. Stir the milk and buttermilk together in a jug and zap in the microwave for 30 seconds until lukewarm. Stir the liquid quickly but thoroughly into the dry ingredients. Pour into the prepared tin and gently flatten the top and sprinkle more oatbran (or oats) over the top. Cover with foil and put into the oven for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a futher 25 minutes uncovered.  Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack  after a minute or two.

Don’t expect the loaf to rise like conventional yeasted bread, it has a taste and texture somewhere between a bread and a cake but is equally at home with butter and jam or a spicy soup.

Spelt Flour Oat Crunchies

Crunchy Oat biscuits are a favourite of mine. I used to love Abbey Crunch biscuits but I don’t think they are made any more. I’ve tried to create something similar but adapted it to my personal taste.

There are two batches in the photograph – the one on the left was made using plain white flour whilst the one on the right (my favourite) is made with stoneground spelt flour. The white flour version uses caster sugar and produces a very sweet biscuit but I used light muscovado sugar and agave nectar in the spelt ones which I think complements the flavour of the spelt really well.

Spelt Flour Oat Crunchies Recipe
Makes 12
75g spelt flour (I used Bacheldre Watermill Organic Stoneground Spelt)
75g oats (not the jumbo variety as they tend to make the biscuit too crumbly)
75g light muscovado sugar
75g softened unsalted butter
2 tsp dried skimmed milk powder
1 tsp agave nectar syrup
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Beat the butter and sugar really well until creamy and has lightened in colour ( I use an electric hand mixer here).Then add all other ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until combined.

Using your hands bring the dough into a big ball – it will be crumbly so don’t be afraid to crush it together – break off equal-sized pieces about 25g in weight and roll into individual balls. Squash each ball between the palms of your hands (you can use a rolling pin if you prefer a neat finisher… and the washing up) and place the biscuit round onto a non-stick baking sheet.

Space the 12 biscuit rounds a little bit apart on the tray and put into the centre of a pre-heated oven at 150 C for 22 minutes (mine is a fan oven so you may want the temperature a little higher for other types). They should be a medium brown colour when cooked – allow to cool for a minute or two before removing from the baking sheet, they will be soft still so move them carefully to a wire rack. Allow to cool completely before eating so they become nice and crunchy  - they will keep for 3 to 4 days in an airtight container … as if they will get the chance!

Approx 121 calories per biscuit.

And if you want the white flour version:

Oat Crunchy Biscuits 
Follow exactly the same method as above but replacing the ingredients as follows:

75g plain white flour instead of the spelt flour
75g caster sugar instead of light muscovado
1 tsp golden syrup instead of agave nectar syrup

These biscuits will be lighter in colour than the spelt ones when cooked.

If you want extra indulgence you can dip the tops of the biscuits in melted chocolate – I think the spelt ones cry out for 70% dark chocolate on top but feel free to go with your own chocolate preference here.