“All sorrows are less with bread” Miguel de Cervantes from Don Quixote

As I have mentioned elsewhere on this site, the saintly Delia Smith has a knack of making certain recipes appear seamless, none more so than this Irish soda bread.

A potential nemesis to our present fixation with sourdough, this loaf requires no forward planning, no diary notes, no daily feeding, no praying for lactic acid bacteria to come calling, no fermentation blues and no adolescent starter having to accompany you on your holiday. It also has no holes that allow the marmalade on your morning toast to drip gently on to your lap. Sorrows clearly lessened.

With a slash across the surface to ‘let the devil out’, make, bake and slice in less time than it takes to register that your mothership starter has resigned herself to impotency. Give thanks to our earth bound divinity, along with oatmeal and bicarbonate of soda. Delicious homemade bread – before you in the blink of a smiling Irish eye.

Irish Oatmeal Soda Bread from Delia’s How to Cook. Book One (1998)

175g wholemeal flour

50g plain flour (a little extra for dusting)

50g pinhead oatmeal

25g wheatgerm

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1½ tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1 large egg

275 ml buttermilk

This could not be easier. Begin by placing the dry ingredients in a large roomy bowl, mix to combine, then beat the egg and buttermilk together and add them to the dry ingredients.

Start mixing, first with a fork, then finish off with your hands to form a smooth dough.

All you do now is transfer to a 450g loaf tin, well greased, and level the top.

Alternativel, shape into a round about 15 cm across and make a deep cut across it, three times, but don’t cut all the way through.

Sprinkle with flour and bake in the centre of pre-heated oven 190C/375F, for 50-60 minutes, then turn straight out onto a wire rack to cool.