I've never been a baker, but I've been on a bread jag lately. There's something so fulfilling about homemade loaves -- the kneading, the experimenting with various flours, seeds, and grains, and especially the smell. When I don't have hours to spend on yeast-risen dough, I turn to the soda-based lot. Soda bread recipes are notoriously simple and nearly effortless -- plus they're in and out of the oven in less than an hour, so you can be eating a warm slice before your yeast dough has even finished its first rise... This is the second version I've made of Heidi Swanson's Rye Soda Bread from Super Natural Every Day. Rye flour has such a delicious depth, and in my first adaptation I paired it with quinoa flour and a heavy dose of caraway seeds. Here cornmeal joins the dry ingredients and a combo of regular and almond milk stand in for the typical buttermilk. Flour-dusted and caraway-flecked, the hot-crossed round came out imperfectly rustic and perfectly crusty. Like the love-child of dense Irish soda bread and sweet, delicate cornbread. It is a lovely platform for a shmear of butter (or soft Delice de Bourgogne cheese).
RYE-CORNMEAL SODA BREAD
[Adapted from Super Natural Every Day]
2 1/3 cups rye flour
1/2 cups quinoa flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus a little extra for kneading and dusting
1 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup regular milk
1 cup almond milk
olive oil, for brushing
caraway seeds, for sprinkling
1. Heat the oven to 400 dg F with the rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat a medium cast iron skillet.
2. In a large bowl, stir together the flours, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the middle of the flour and pour in the milk. Stir together with a wooden spoon or a spatula just until the dough comes together in a ball.
3. Turn out onto a lightly floured counter top and knead for just about 30 seconds. The dough should be a cohesive ball, but there will still be dry spots. Try to get rid of the cracks.
4. Remove the cast iron skillet from the oven, sprinkle lightly with flour and place the ball of dough on top. Brush olive oil over the top and sides of the dough and then sprinkle generously with flour and caraway seeds. Without slicing all the way through the ball, cut two deep slashes across the top of the dough to form an "x".
5. Bake for about 30 minutes and then move the rack and the bread up a level in the oven to bake for another 20 minutes. The bread is done when the dough looks baked thoroughly and is nice and crusty. It will be heavy, but should sound hollow when you knock the bottom.