My friend Neil and I play this game of 'Ready Steady Cook'. It is a cooking show in the UK and the participants buy ingredients that they like from the supermarkets and the chefs on the show would cook a 3 course meal for them, usually about 5 dishes on the average. So Neil travels a lot and I have to be busy in the kitchen. So we feed off each other and I would cook him some home cooked food when we meet. It is a very civilise thing to do and much more enjoyable than dining in restaurants. I do find the dining experience in Singapore becoming very pretentious. So this activity of talking whilst cooking and then enjoying the food after is so down to earth for me.

But of course I am not as quick as the chefs on the show and I usually need a couple of hours to make stuff. Come on, I am not going to cook Neil a tomato basil pasta dish right? I could but that would take less than 20 minutes and the whole idea was to cook up a feast.

Just in case you are wondering what was cooked up that evening. We cooked tomato and garlic flatbread, soda bread with tomato salsa, mushroom risotto and pan fried salmon in 5 spice.

So back to the topic of soda bread. I have never made soda breads. I was going to make a yeast rise bread but Neil confirmed the dinner a bit late and I didn't have time for it to rise. So I tried soda bread for the first time and it is so much easier than my yeast bread recipe.

4 cups flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups water
2tsp cider vinegar [I used white wine vinegar] or 1/2 tsp of citric powder

(1 tsp of citric acid powder to make 4 tbsp of lemon juice substitute)

Bake in the (pre-heated) oven for 15 minutes at 250C, then turn down to 200C for 30 minutes until cooked.

Note: Soda breads are best eaten on the day they are made, but are still good for another day or two.
My note: If you do keep it, you need to put it in a plastic bag. This keeps it from drying out to a crisp - especially the water version. Variations - Many. Herbs, cumin, seeds. If you start adding ingredients like sultanas, raisins, eggs, whisky, orange zest, blueberries, shortening (butter or lard) etc. you go into the realms of Spotted dog, railway bread and soda bread becomes like brioche and cake - where do you start?

I am always looking for frugal recipes. So when I compared the price of vinegar to lemons to buttermilk to citric acid, the no brainer is citric acid. We cannot taste the acid in the bread anyway. It is not like you want to make a vinegar bread. This is one recipe I will test and post about soon.

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