A bizarre concurrence of events to be sure, but yesterday I had all the ingredients on hand to make Nigella Lawson’s “Soda Bread Buns with Fennel Seeds and Cranberries” and St. Patrick’s Day is tomorrow. So for all of you who could use a little addition to your St. Patrick’s Day menu, here’s a soda bread recipe to help you celebrate March 17th.
The recipe is from Simply Nigella, and in my opinion it’s representative of the other recipes in the book. It’s easy, yet both familiar and unique at the same time. Some ideas in Simply Nigella have become kind of trendy as of late (avocado toast, sheet pan recipes, pickled eggs, caramelized garlic and slow cooker things), but Nigella’s take on the popular tastes of the day are always interesting if not enlightening, so that’s a comment not a complaint. I really love this book, and the family is usually surprised and delighted with the recipes because Nigella always throws in something new.
Now back to the bread or “soda bread buns” as Nigella calls them. The soda bread I know calls for a little sugar, while Nigella’s leaves out the sugar in favor of cranberries. If for some reason you have to leave out the cranberries, try adding a little honey or using a different dried fruit because the rolls need that hint of sweetness. In addition to the cranberries she uses allspice which imparts the most wonderful flavor when mixed with the fennel seeds. I thought it was a brilliant flavor combo and haven’t yet come up with any great variations, so here’s a link to Nigella’s recipe in The Daily Mail. I made the recipe exactly as directed using a scale. In the book Nigella does include volume measurements for the USA, but I recommend using the metric version since flour can have such a different weight per cup. If you don’t have a scale and need help converting the weight to volume, here are the measurements I used: 3 tablespoons (50 grams) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled, 1 cup (150 grams) all-purpose flour,2/3 cup (100 grams) whole wheat flour,1/2 teaspoon regular salt or kosher or 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 3/4 teaspoon baking soda,3/4 teaspoon ground allspice, 2/3 cup buttermilk, 1 extra large egg,2/3 dried cranberries, 2 teaspoons fennel seeds. Baking temp was 425 F.