Monday, September 8, 2014

Comfort Healthy food

Jamie Oliver appears to have a new television show and book out entitled 'Comfort Food,' which reportedly puts a spin on classic comfort food dishes and encourages people to treat themselves. Well it has inspired me to make my own comfort food, but it may not be what you think.

A year ago I wrote about how I was moving to the UK and I made some delicious double chocolate chip cookies (link) to comfort myself then. Now a year on I am settling into UK living and enjoying exploring the varieties of cuisine available as well as all the different cultural and (SOMETHING) opportunities. However there are things that I miss from home; my family (of course), my friends (naturally) and dark wholemeal seeded soda bread! 'Erm, what??!' you may be asking, and ok it may seem somewhat unconventional but it is my favourite type of bread. It's healthy but hearty and sometimes one slice will fill you up. Toasted with butter, there is simply no better bread (in my humble Irish opinion). I have searched for this deliciousness without success, sure you can get a normal soda bread everywhere but that pales (literally) in comparison to this beauty. In Ireland I would go through a loaf (at least) of this a week and since moving over here I have craved it and made sure to over-dose on the stuff every time I go home. So when the concept of comfort food was plastered in every book window and channel four advertisement, the first thing I thought of was this deliciousness and then it hit me!! Like an ACME anvil from a cliff - 'Cat, you're a home-baker!!! Make your own for goodness sake!!!!' Oh yeah, duh!

So I scoured the internet for recipes. My favourite is the loaf from Avoca and that's where I started my search. However I couldn't find the recipe, so I widened the search and voila deliciousnutritiousambitious had made the recipe from the Avoca Cookbook but altered it to suit an american baker. So using the recipe posted there in combination with my own knowledge of irish bread baking I put together a recipe and tried it out. Thankfully it amazing and I will share it with you here.

Dark Brown Seeded Irish Soda Bread
Adapted From deliciousnutritiousambitious and the Avoca Cookbook

200g Strong white bread flour (I use organic, non-bleached)
350g Malted wholemeal flour
1 tbsp Baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp sesame seeds + more to sprinkle on top
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
2 tbsp linseed
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp poppy seeds + more to sprinkle on top
(Or 10 tbsp of seed mix)
500ml milk (I made this today with skimmed, lactose free milk and it's perfect)
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp black treacle

1 - Preheat your oven to 200'

2 - To your 500ml milk add the tablespoon of lemon juice and let sit (this will turn the milk sour and
      you want that!)

3 - In a large bowl measure out and then whisk together the white flour, wholewheat flour, baking
     soda and salt until thoroughly combined.

4 - Create a well in the flours and pour in the milk/lemon juice and the black treacle.

5 - Mix only until fully combined, do not knead or overmix as the bread will be tough.

6 - Prepare a bread tin with butter and flour

7 - Pour your dough into the tin, it should be sticky but not too wet.

8 - Smooth out the dough and then sprinkle the extra sesame and poppy sides on top.

9 - Bake for 45 minutes in the center of the oven. After 20 minutes you might want to cover the top with tin foil in order to prevent burning. Remove from the oven and bread tin and tap the base when the time is up. If it sounds hollow then place on a wire wrack to cool slightly (at least 15 minutes) before cutting and eating.

If you are from Ireland and you know this bread then I would say that it comes out more like a Superquinn or Supervalu dark brown seeded loaf than AVOCA. So if you have been buying your bread there or craving this bread from there then this is the perfect recipe. Does it taste like the AVOCA loaf? not quite but this has not deterred me. I will be revisiting this recipe so expect another similar one soon. For the moment I am happily comforted with my healthy bread and I really hope you try this out and enjoy it for yourself.

My bag-o-seeds! Yum

 An end-note about the seeds: It's funny that I was inspired to make this by Jamie Oliver's 'Comfort Food,' as my major complaint about the recipes of Mr. Oliver is his use of ingredients. The man is clearly a culinary genius but any time I consult one of his recipe I notice that he will use a tiny amount of some unique ingredient that I never have in my kitchen already and that would probably cost me a couple pounds to buy. However he sometimes neglects to take into account that I'll need to buy a whole container to use one tablespoon and I probably won't use this again quickly enough, so one tablespoon really cost me £3-£4 and a whole lots of waste. I will be making lots of this bread so I went out and spent £10 on organic versions of all the seeds included and made a beautiful collection of bread seeds (pictured above). However it's not necessary for you to do the same. If you want to try this out then I recommend using 10 tablespoons of any seed mix instead. Most seed mixes will have pumpkin and sunflower and therefore some of the important flavours are covered . Now you have no excuse, so try this!


  1. Aw, sorry I feel like I'm teasing you with my gluten tolerance. Your fries and burger look amazing though. Would it help if I said I can't eat beef or bacon?? so I'm crazy jealous of your deliciousness!


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