Traditionally soda leavened breads have been around Ireland for a long time. The use of bicarbonate of soda came about when traveling folk wanted to be able to make breads quickly without the need for long fermentation. This particular loaf uses treacle which years ago, along with honey, was one of the few sweeteners available to your average person in Ireland as refined sugar was too expensive for most. It gives this loaf a sweetened aftertaste along with the malty notes from the Guinness - a dry stout with a dark colour and characteristic taste that has almost taken on the role as unofficial sponsor of Ireland around the world. As a cooking alcohol, Guinness is used across the Irish kitchen from bread to stews to bakes.
Cooking with alcohol - learn how to cook with alcohol, enhancing the flavours and textures of this loaf.
Soda leavening - use soda to give rise to the loaf, reducing the prep time of the bread as well as giving it different flavour characteristics.
No knead bread - discover the texture of a mixed dough rather than kneaded giving you a tighter and denser texture.
1x loaf tin (26x10cm), 2x small measuring jugs, 1x large mixing bowl, 2x wooden spoon or spatula/Maurice, 1x whisk, 1x cooling rack, 1x small pairing knife, 1x serving board or tray, 1x large serrated knife or pastry knife
No pre-lesson preparation needed.
Pre-heat your oven for baking by placing a rack in the centre of the oven and heating it to 180°C (approx 350°F).
To start, take a large mixing bowl and add the black treacle along with the milk, melted butter, and the Guinness. With a whisk start to move the wet ingredients around the bowl - the treacle will stick to the bottom so take your time to lift it and combine it with the other ingredients.
In a separate bowl, add your two flours and the remaining dry ingredients - brown sugar, bicarbonate of soda, salt and porridge oats, and mix through with a wooden spoon until well combined. Make sure to leave some of your porridge oats behind to sprinkle over the top of the loaf before baking.
Give the wet ingredients another mix to remove any treacle from the base of the bowl then add to your dry ingredients. Using the whisk, slowly bring together the wet and dry ingredients mixing thoroughly. Once mixed through you will have a texture that resembles a raw cake batter rather than a bread-like dough.
Spray, grease or flour your cake tin and tip the mixture into the tin, spread evenly with the back of your spatular or spoon. Once evenly spread, knock any excess air out of the mixture by dropping the tin from a height. Take the remaining oats and sprinkle evenly over the batter.
Place the bread into the oven and bake for 50-55 minutes. Once you have a defined rise and crack down the centre and the bread is a dark brown colour, remove from the oven and place onto a cooling rack. We can also check the bread is baked by placing a clean skewer into the centre of the loaf. The skewer should return clean with no bits of batter.
Leave to cool to a temperature where you can hold the tin. Once cooled, turn the loaf out of the tin onto your serving board. Grab your serrated knife and cut thick slices of the loaf to serve alongside room temperature butter and enjoy.
When working with treacle or any syrups with a high sugar content and thick viscosity, wet your utensil with hot water to help you work with the ingredient.
To melt your butter, either place in a small saucepan on a low heat or heat in the microwave in 10-second blasts until runny.
The best technique with the whisk is to lift the treacle off the bottom and then mix vigorously to combine all the ingredients.
The liquid should become a dark brown colour from the Guinness and treacle once fully mixed. The butter will also be sitting on the top.
When mixing the dry ingredients take your time. Using the wooden spoon or even your hands ensure everything is evenly dispersed through the flours, this will help us achieve a consistent flavour, remove any lumps and get an even rise.
Make sure to scrape your bowl to remove any of the treacle and Guinness using your spatular or spoon. Again, this is a step to take your time on and ensure everything is fully mixed through. Keep an eye out for any lumps of the dry ingredients. Mixing thoroughly, the batter should be fairly thick and move away from the edges or the bottom of the bowl when mixed.
The reaction takes place between the acid and the bicarbonate of soda. The reaction releases carbon dioxide into the dough causing pockets to be created making our mixture expand.
Knocking the air out of the mixture is a key technique that can be used across many different recipes such as macaroons, cakes, pastries and more. It will help obtain an even rise and texture.
Using a cooling rack when baking will allow for a better airflow around your bread allowing it to cool quickly and more evenly.
When pressed, the bread should spring back to its original form. If it has a dough-like dense consistency your bread is under baked and you should place it back in the oven until the skewer comes out clean and the loaf has a springy texture.
We are also looking for a darker crust to the outside of the loaf and white flecks of porridge oats throughout the dough.
When cutting bread the top tips to remember are let the teeth on the knife do the work and apply as little pressure as possible using a sawing motion to cut the slices. Also, if you stand straight, you’ll cut straight - stand square to your chopping board with the knife by your side and you will be able to keep control of the knife and slice straight.