Last Saturday, I had a wedding to photograph 3 hours from Melbourne in a little town on the Victoria and New South Wales boarder. Me being me, I left 6 hours hours early. So having plenty of time to kill I stopped in at a few little towns on the way. One in particular took my fancy and I have now fallen in love with. A town called Chiltern, its like it came out of a movie set, a town that has almost stood still since the time of the gold rush. Its so picture perfect and quaint. It has so many Antique shops for a town as small, a junk collectors heaven.
In this town there is a little junk shop that is so full to the brim you won't believe your eyes, I walked in and just stood still, it was incredible.
Behind the desk sat a older gentleman, Ned, who is 95. He owns and runs this little shop, and wow what a man. He had so many story's to tell about his life, and just one I would like to share with you, the one that inspired this bread.
When Ned was a young man, newly returned from the war, he headed to a small town where his mother was living at the time, in order to start a bakery. Being the end of the war supplies were slim. Ned took all the money he had and brought two big bags of flour, having no yeast and knowing full well how to make some good damper from his war days, he mixed the flour with some baking soda and water and went off and forgot about it for a few hours.
He told me the dough doubled in size and he punched it down and formed one hundred loafs of bread.
He placed the bread in the oven and the smell attacted all the towns folk. Who came out in search of the freshly baked bread. Ned said he sold every loaf in less that ten minutes not even having time to wrap the bread for them. And that was the start of Ned very first business and he has never worked for a boss, his entire life.
Its amazing the stories that our elders can tell us we just need to take the time to listen. If your ever in chiltern seek out Ned's little shop and meet the man, I'm sure he will have a story to tell you, he certainly made my day.
Today I decided to try out some of this soda bread and found a recipe in an old cook book that sadly has no cover so I cannot tell you the name.
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cups water
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
pre heat oven to 200 degrees
Place all of the ingredients into a bowl and stir to combine, once the dough has combined form into a ball. Cut a cross into the top and place into the oven and bake for 40 minutes.
I left the bread for a few hours to see if it would rise and nothing happened, so I am not sure how long Ned forgot about the dough in order for it to rise, but feel free to experiment yourself and let me know.