Asked to demonstrate at the local agricultural show last month, I was determined to make use of our lovely Dorset produce. The tricky thing was to choose a recipe that could be made, baked and ready for the crowd to sample within 45 minutes. And of course it had to taste amazing.
In the end I selected an old favourite that required nothing but a bowl, a spoon and a baking tray. This gorgeous soda bread with blue cheese and walnuts is not only quick and simple to make but pretty much foolproof.
I use Dorset Blue Vinny cheese, organic stoneground flour from Stoate’s, and BV Dairy’s buttermilk to make a truly local bread – that said, you could also use ingredients bought in a supermarket for this recipe and still get a fabulous result.
This bread is dangerously moreish with its large chunks of melted blue cheese that work so well with the granary flour. The nuts add crunch too. Serve it with cauliflower cheese or alongside a simple plate of cheese and pickles.
It was rewarding, after my demo, to overhear the comment ‘this bread is lovely I bet the Irish would be envious of this bad boy’. I hope you think so too.
Dorset Blue Vinny
This cheese was traditionally made in many farmhouses across Dorset but sadly ceased production during the second World War. Forty years later, on a farm in Sturminster Newton, they revived the 300-year-old recipe.
Stoate & Sons
Stoate’s have been milling stoneground flour since 1832 and are a fifth generation family business. They produce a superb granary flour, Maltstar, which gives bread a beautiful malty flavour.
Dorset Blue Vinny and Walnut Soda Bread
250g strong white flour
250g strong wholemeal (brown – granary) flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon salt
125g Dorset Blue Vinny Cheese, crumbled into big chunks, plus optional extra 25g for top of loaf
Switch the oven on at 200C or Gas 6.
Mix together the flours, bicarbonate of soda, salt, cheese and walnuts in a bowl. Make sure all the ingredients are well combined.
Add the buttermilk and mix together quickly. You may need to add a little more liquid as each type of flour (and indeed each brand) varies in how much it absorbs.
Tip the contents of the bowl on to a lightly floured work surface. Shape it into a round loaf approximately 5cm deep and 20cm in diameter. Put the dough on a baking tray lined with parchment.
Cut a deep cross into the top (this will ensure that the bread cooks through). Sprinkle with extra cheese (if using) or flour.
Put it straight in the oven and cook for 30-35 minutes. The bread is done when the base sounds hollow when tapped. Take it out of the oven and allow it to cool for at least 15 minutes. Serve ….
For a video guide to making this, visit @lizzibakingbird Instagram reels.