Sourdough bread is undeniably delicious, but we don’t always have the time (or patience) to deal with all that feeding and discarding. Luckily, there are oodles of loaves, buns and rolls that don’t require so much tending (and some that don’t even require yeast).
Last week, we confirmed that we had entered in fact entered a time machine and travelled back to March 2020. For starters, we were in a nationwide lockdown but sourdough bread had also made a triumphant return, as many of us turned back to bread to get us through yet another challenging time.
That said, there are only so many times one can make — and eat — sourdough bread. We know, we didn't think it would ever be possible to get bored of such a crusty, chewy, buttery loaf...yet here we are. Besides, why not show off your new baking skills by trying something different? There's never been a better time to expand your repertoire and make something Paul Hollywood would be award a handshake for: a traditional Irish soda bread, fool-proof focaccia or perhaps something a little more challenging like homemade brioche?
Ahead, we've pulled together a selection of our favourite non-sourdough bread baking recipes for you to try. If you think you need to be a professional baker to pull these off, think again. These recipes are simple to follow and don't require the need to nurture and feed a sourdough starter...
Caramelised red onion flatbread
We may be several months into this pandemic which usually would be enough time to re-stock yeast but still, it remains as a hard-to-find ingredient. But just because you can't get your hands on yeast does not mean you have to be left out of the self-quarantine bread-making game! If you have flour, baking powder, salt, and olive oil, you can make these easy flatbreads in less than 30 minutes. They are cooked in a skillet on the stovetop and are topped with a hearty helping of caramelised red onions but they work just as good on their own if onions aren't your thing. Get the recipe, here.
Irish soda bread
This is an amazingly easy, versatile loaf and has stood the test of time as an Irish classic. It is a no-knead, no-fuss style of bread which is our kind of recipe! What's more, Irish Soda Bread is a quick bread that does not require any yeast. Instead, all of its leavening comes from baking soda and buttermilk. It only takes 2 or 3 minutes to make and 30 - 40 minutes to bake - a great way to kill a WFH lunch break. What's more, you can change this classic by adding lots of tasty additions. Think spiced fruit, honey, blue cheese and walnut, or simply just cheese and oats. But first, you need to get the basics down. Get the recipe for this traditional Irish soda bread, here.
This simple bread alternative tastes delicious and is simple to make. It's similar to the classic soda bread above - only minus all the flour. Even for non-coeliac eaters, this bread tastes so delicious that you won't even miss the flour. It makes for an ideal base for all the things you might pop on top but is also a tasty treat on its own with a sliver of butter. It also costs less than €1 per loaf...
Get the recipe, here.
Another big trend at the start of lockdown was focaccia art. However, struggling to maintain a sourdough starter meant we weren't exactly brave enough to give this one a go...until now. Whether you call it focaccia art, garden focaccia, gardenscape focaccia or the focaccia challenge, this new trend is all about beautiful looking bread. At its core, this craze is all about Italian-style bread decorated with herbs and vegetables. Focaccia is a yeasted dough with a texture similar to pizza dough, often prepared with olive oil and herbs. It has a thick airy crumb with a light and flavourful crust, making it perfect for sandwiches. It's also commonly seen on menus as a side or starter served with oil and vinegar. Focaccia art involves decorating the top of your focaccia with vegetables to create a garden scene, usually involving flowers and trees. We've seen chives used as stems, tomatoes used as flowers and olives as the grass, resulting in incredibly artistic bakes. To get started on this new activity, you'll first need to nail a basic focaccia recipe. Luckily, we have a great one from Mark Moriarty. Get the recipe, here.
Potato & dulse bread
Potatoes? In bread? No, you're not dreaming. Sometimes the simple things in life are always the best! This potato bread and dulse bread is essentially wheat bread with a mashed potato worked into the dough.It has the most wonderful crust, and the light but firm structure, with generous craggly holes make for the most fantastic toast. (All those nooks and crannies? Perfect butter and jam receptacles.) Get the recipe, here.
Similar to the Welsh bara brith, barmbrack is a tea loaf packed with dried fruit. Known as bairín breac in Irish, which means speckled loaf, the fruit in this loaf was thought of as indulgent and luxurious in previous years when dried fruit was a rarity due to its cost. It was often made with strong black tea, instead of milk or water, so it is also known as a tea loaf. Usually made in flattened rounds and served toasted with lots of Irish butter and tea (of course!), barmbrack is thought to predict what the year ahead holds for those who eat it. Traditionally, a variety of different items were baked into barmbrack and if you were the lucky one to find a trinket, you would know what was in store for you over the following year. Usually, a pea, a stick, a piece of cloth, a small coin and a ring were baked into the loaf, but we've also seen recipes that call for a matchstick or a thimble. Each of these trinkets symbolised a different future: the pea meant that you would not be married in the coming year, while the ring meant you would soon be wed, the stick meant that you would be unhappily married or in arguments, the cloth meant you would be poor and the coin would indicate good fortune and riches. Nowadays, barmbrack is commercially sold with a plastic ring – so diners don't lose their teeth! – and occasionally a plastic coin. The elimination of the other charms occurred due to current health and safety regulations, but if you make it at home, you can still include them. Get the recipe, here.
Easy Guinness bread
Throughout lockdown, baking bread has become a worldwide obsession. While lots of people have become fascinated with tending to their sourdough starters, we still have a soft spot in our hearts for classic Guinness bread. This recipe is easy to master and freezes really well - double the batch and freeze one for later. Try the recipe, here.
Banana, cocoa and hazelnut breakfast bread
Is there anything better than waking up on a slow Saturday to the smell of homemade bread baking in the oven? Make the most of your mornings, and try out this banana, cocoa and hazelnut breakfast bread. Not only will this be sure to go down a treat in your home but it will also give you an excuse to use up those over-ripe bananas that are sitting in your fruit bowl. Now we call that a win-win! Get the recipe, here.
Although flat in appearance, pitta breads are designed to puff up during baking and then sink, creating a hollow interior that makes a handy repository for fillings. Quick to make, and easy to eat, it’s little wonder they’re popular, not only for stuffing, but also as utensils for dipping or scooping food, and bulking out soups and salads. Sealed in long-life packaging, pitta can be picked up at most supermarkets for mere pennies – so why bother to make your own? Because, unless you’re lucky enough to be able to find them freshly baked, shop-bought pitta is a very poor relation, just like pizza bases, or indeed hummus. The real thing is soft and chewy, rather than tough, with a fluffy interior perfect for soaking up sauces – they’re well worth the pretty minimal effort. Get the recipe, here.
It is often broken down into three types: poor man’s, middle class and rich man’s brioche, depending on the ingredients. This recipe is certainly a rich man’s brioche and why not? This bread is rich, velvety and almost flaky. The great thing about this recipe is that the dough can be made in advance – many feel that it is better when it has been given a night in a fridge. The dough will keep very well for two to three days. Get the recipe, here.
Bretzel Bakery's tortano crown
Back in November, we spoke to William Despard who owns Dublin's Bretzel Bakery about his recent Blas na hÉireann award: the baker's pain de maison took home the Supreme Champion award, adding to the company's stellar reputation. However, 2020 hasn't been all that William hoped for due to the global pandemic - find out more about how Bretzel Bakery has survived and thrived during 2020 in the November issue of FOOD&WINE Magazine, available by visiting businesspost.ie. Alongside his interview, William shared a gorgeous recipe for tortano crown bread with us. The name is Italian, literally meaning crown of thorns, and this recipe was devised as Despard's original take on this classic bread for the opening of Jamie’s Italian in Dundrum. The name refers to the shape - the dough is proved in a ring-shaped basket and then puckered with the points of scissors prior to baking to resemble Christ’s crown of thorns. Many recipes call for potato flour, but Despard advises baking the spuds, skins and all. It got a great thumbs up from the executive chef and Jamie Oliver himself. Get the recipe, here.
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