Wednesday, March 19, 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.


Meeta said...

I have not yet tried making soda bread. But there is hope as i plan to start baking bread to help me get over my bread fear factor.

Yours looks lovely and brown!

Kalyn said...

I am laughing because if Meeta has bread fear factor, then I must have it too! Love the sound of this bread. I'm intrigued by barley flour, which would be good for my diet, and I love the idea of ricotta here too. Thanks for the mention. I admit I was rather proud that I actually produced bread that looked good enough to be featured on the blog. (Will wonders never cease, Kalyn actually made bread!)

Wendy said...

This looks wonderfully moist and tasty and I simply have to eat it soon. With honey. :)

insane scribbler said...

Wanted to email you, but could not locate your email address on the
blog. we have 2 cool widgets ( a slideshow widget and a content widget
) which can help enhance site interaction and reader's experience. pl
contact me at to know more.


PS: If you would like to showcase blog posts from your other blogs (to drive traffic to your other blogs or blogs you like), you can use our the customised version of our widget as well. Just drop in an email :-)

katiez said...

I normally make my soda bread with yogurt (initially because I couldn't get the buttermilk - now because I like it better.) Now I'll have to try the ricotta - which I happen to have a bit of in the fridge!

neil said...

At least the Irish aren't like the French. They would have slapped an AOC on it and you would never again be able to utter soda bread and Eastonia in the same breath! Your flour sounds great, I'll look out for some.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

The traditional Irish soda bread was the first quick bread I learned to make, and you're right, it's nothing like this one. I'm looking forward to making the Estonian version, especially as it uses barley flour, which is an ingredient on my list of things to try.

h said...

Off the topic, sort of - curd cheese aka kohupiim. What do I replace that with in the States? I read somewhere that mixing ricotta w full fat sour cream can be used as replacement. Have you heard of that being done?

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I've been looking for barley flour here but it's looking like I have to order it from King Arthur.
This looks gorgeous Pille. Much more moist than the recipe I've always used. Would really like to try this with the ricotta.

ScienceMel said...

Hi Pille! For those of us who are a wee bit dense, why is it called soda bread? Lots of quick breads use baking soda, I thought...

Pille said...

Meeta – you’re such an excellent and accomplished cook, I cannot believe you’re afraid of making bread?

Kalyn – barley flour (esp. coarsely ground high-fibre one) has a GI around 55 or so, which makes it’s good for you, no?

Wendy – it was absolutely wonderful with honey (and butter, of course).

KatieZ – I made another one just a few days later, using fermented milk (kefir) instead of curd cheese – also excellent!

Neil – luckily, we speak a incomprehensible language here in Estonia, so we’d get away never uttering the words “soda bread” out loud (just “odrakarask”) :)

Lydia – try to find a good high-fibre barley flour – I really think the grainy texture enhanced the bread.

H – I used ricotta when still living in the UK – sometimes adding a bit of sour cream, sometimes not – depending on what I was making.

Tanna – I’ve heard good things about King Arthur flours – I’m sure their barley flour’s good.

ScienceMel – well, I think all quick breads using soda would also qualify as ‘soda bread’ then?

Antipo Déesse said...

Dear Pille,

You seem to have omitted just one step in the method: when do we add the milk please?

I'm in the middle of the recipe now, so I'll add the milk to the ricotta & egg mixture, and I'll let you know how it turns out!

Becki said...

Now the soda bread I wasn't too crazy about (neither were the kids). It couldn't have been because of the ricotta, so I guess I'll have to blame that on the barley flour. It just made the bread taste a little bit too bitter for me.