Rabu, 19 Maret 2008

Estonian Soda Bread with Ricotta Cheese

When I say "Soda Bread", will you think of Ireland? Wikipedia seems to do so, and there are plenty of Irish Soda Bread recipes out there in the foodblogosphere (Elise, BakingSheet, Kalyn, Andrea, SmittenKitchen, Tea). There's even a Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread !!

However, soda bread is a traditional bread here in Estonia as well. Although nowadays most Estonians think of rye bread when they think of bread at all ('bread' in Estonian - 'leib' - actually only means rye bread; when you use wheat flour, you'll get 'sai' and not 'leib'), traditionally barley played a more important part in the staple diet of Estonians. I recently discovered this rather coarsely ground organic Estonian barley flour (Eesti Mahe), which is excellent - with a lovely nutty taste and even lovelier texture.

Soda bread is of course best eaten warm, with butter and drizzle of runny honey, for example. But as this soda bread contains curd cheese (you can substitute ricotta), it was soft and tender on the following day as well. And the best thing about soda bread is - apart from its lovely flavour - that it can be on your table within 30 minutes or so.

Estonian Soda Bread

Makes one 23x23 cm bread

200 g ricotta* or curd cheese
2oo ml milk
1 egg
200 ml (115 g) barley flour
100 ml (70 g) plain/all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp rapeseed or olive oil

(Add 2 Tbsp sour creme, if using ricotta cheese)

Combine ricotta/curd cheese, milk, egg, salt and sugar in a bowl. Combine barley and wheat flour with baking soda, then fold into the ricotta and egg mixture. Pour in the oil and mix until combined.
Butter a spring form with butter, or line with parchment paper (I use 23x23 cm skillet, lined with paper). Spoon the batter into the form and bake at 200 Celsius for about 25-30 minutes, until the bread is lovely golden brown.