New England Soda Bread

An old American recipe, New England Soda Bread is easy to make and simply delicious. Serve this brown bread still warm with lashings of butter and cheese, accompanied by a cool glass of beer.

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

4 oz. stale crustless bread, soaked overnight in

12 fl. oz. cold water

4 fl. oz. molasses

1 teaspoon salt

5 oz. corn meal

5 oz. rye flour

5 oz. coarse wholewheat flour

2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

4 fl. oz. cold water

Using a pastry brush, lightly oil two I5- pint, round, plain moulds or pudding basins with the vegetable oil. Set aside.

Using the back of a wooden spoon, rub the soaked bread through a fine wire strainer into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the molasses to the pureed bread, mixing them well together with a wooden spoon. Set aside.

In another medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the salt, corn meal, rye flour, wholewheat flour and soda.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Pour in the water and add the bread and molasses mixture. Using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture until all the ingredients are well combined.

Divide the mixture between the two moulds or basins. Cover them very securely with greased aluminium foil, tied tightly with string under the rim of each basin.

Place a rack in the bottom of a large, deep saucepan which is wide enough to hold both the basins. Put the basins on the rack and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up around the basins. Cover the saucepan and place it over low heat.

Steam the bread for 3 to 3 ½ hours, adding more water when necessary.

Preheat the oven to cool 300°F (Gas Mark 2, 150°C).

Lift the basins out of the saucepan. Remove the foil covers and place the basins in the oven. Bake the bread for 15 minutes. This will remove any excess moisture from the bread. Remove the basins from the oven and turn the bread out on to a wire rack. Serve warm or cold.

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