450gplain flour (1 lb/ 3 ½ US cups)you may need more depending on the dough, + more for dusting the board.
350 - 450mlbuttermilk ( approx 2 US cups)you may need more or less depending on the flour you use.
1teaspoonbicarbonate of soda
Preheat the oven to 250C/482FSift all the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Then make a well in the centre.
Pour about half the buttermilk into the well.Using your hand, start mixing the bread. Your hand should be in a claw shape. Add more buttermilk, check the dough, if it is too dry add more buttermilk. If it is on the wet side add more flour.Once the dough is sticky and starts to form a ball, tip it out onto a floured board.The dough should not be too wet or too dry.
Using both hands shape the dough into a round. Then with the palm of your hand press into a disk shape.Using a sharp knife cut a cross in the centre of the dough then place on a floured baking tray. Sprinkle a little flour over the top of the dough. Then pop it in the oven.
Bake at 250C/482F for 15 minutes then turn the heat down to 200F/392 and bake for another 30 minutes.To check that the bread is done knock on the base of the bread and it should make a hollow sound.Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly then wrap in a clean damp tea towel.
Don't over handle the dough - The more you handle this dough the tougher the bread will be, handle with care for a lighter bread.
Flour - Protein content in flour varies from one brand to the next, this will affect how much buttermilk you will need to add. I recommend starting with half the minimum amount listed (approx 150ml) then add more as you need it. The dough should be sticky, not runny.
Buttermilk - The amount of buttermilk listed varies from 350ml to 500ml, this is due to not all flours having the same protein content. I have made this using 500ml plus, some readers have made this using less. To ensure success start small and add more if your dough is too dry.
Don't forget to cut a cross in the dough - This is not just for "letting the Devil out of the bread" but helps the heat get into the thickest part of the dough and helps the bread to cook evenly.
Get the bread into the oven quickly - The bicarbonate of soda starts working with the buttermilk as soon as you mix it together. So to get that lovely rise on the bread, get it into the oven quickly!
Once the bread has cooled slightly wrap it in a clean, damp tea cloth, this will help soften the crust.
Nutritional Information - is approximate and is calculated using an online nutrition tool. It based on one of 8 slices, you may get more out of this loaf than 8 slices depending on how thick you cut the bread.
Measurements - I weigh all my ingredients using an electric scale, all measurements are metric. Cup measurements are approximate.