A few weeks ago I developed this recipe for the Northern Ireland Dairy Council “Creative Cheese” food bloggers competition. The aim was to marry together the fantastic local flavours of Northern Ireland cheese with my family’s soda bread recipe. It didn’t make the cut in the competition, but I still think it’s a pretty tasty versatile recipe!
For this reworking of my traditional soda bread, I mixed local smoked and cheddar cheese into the dough, added paprika and rosemary as aromatics, olives for a little saltiness, and cayenne for a kick of heat. The result was an Oaky Smoky cheesy soda bread that celebrated the quality and flavours of NI cheese whilst maintaining local old fashioned techniques.
As it’s mainly standard cupboard ingredients used in this soda bread it is both easy to make and quickly baked - making it a pretty handy recipe.
[I used County Tyrone Filemiletown cheese, Neill’s Self Raising Soda Bread flour from Belfast and Dale Farm Buttermilk in this recipe which produces the best results. However you can obviously replace them with local products from your own area too]
Smoky Cheese & Olive Soda Bread
350g Soda Bread Flour, sieved, plus extra for dusting (or substitute 350g Plain Flour, sieved and 1 heaped teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda)
Half teaspoon Fine Salt
2 teaspoons Fresh Rosemary leaves, chopped finely (you can substitute dried Rosemary)
1 teaspoon Paprika
Half teaspoon Cayenne
35g Mixed Green & Black Olives, chopped
150g Oakwood Smoked Cheddar
100g Mature Cheddar
Medium high-sided mixing bowl
A “Big Metal Fork” - By this I mean a serving fork, not a dinner fork
7cm Cookie Cutter
Preheat the oven to 180°C/355°F.
Sieve the flour into the mixing bowl. Add the salt, rosemary, paprika and cayenne and mix together using the “Big Fork”. Once the herbs, spices and flour are well mixed together, add the olives and cheese and mix through again.
Make a well in the middle of the mixture and pour in the buttermilk. Using the “big fork” stir the buttermilk, drawing the flour in gradually from the sides. The dough should come together in a wet sticky ball after a couple of minutes.
At this point sprinkle some flour around the inside wall of the bowl, then literally lift the bowl with two hands and rotate it in a circular motion so that the dough rolls around the walls of the bowl gathering up some of the sprinkled flour as it goes. Toss the dough ball over in the bowl and rotate again.
Turn the dough out onto a cold surface sprinkled lightly with flour and flatten it with your hands until it is about 3cm thick. It should be big enough so that you able to cut out 6 rounds with an 7cm cookie cutter.
Roll the remaining dough into a ball using your hands, then put back into the bowl and rotate around the bowl again. You may need to sprinkle a bit more flour. Again turn the dough out onto a cold surface sprinkled lightly with flour, flatten and cut out more rounds. Repeat this process until all the dough has been used.
Place the rounds onto a baking sheet and bake in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes. When cooked the scones should be coloured on top and make a hollow sound when you knock on the base of them.
Cool the soda breads on a wire rack then wrap in a clean tea towel or cotton napkin to keep fresh. Alternatively eat them whilst warm!
You can have these for breakfast, lunch, or as a snack, sliced and smothered in some creamy NI butter or cream cheese. They are also great as a bread side to a meal.
The scones are best eaten on the day they are baked. However if they are a touch stale the next day then just toast them - they are still delicious!