I've been a tortured soul since I saw this at Apple Crumbles. Beautiful isn't it? Home made bread issues from my oven on a regular basis but I'm nothing if not impatient. Make that pathologically impatient. Now, I know greatness takes time and great bread can't  be rushed. I love the results of a slow rise and often leave my dough overnight in the fridge for spectacularly flavoured loaves the next day. But when I saw that mustard, beer and caraway loaf (have you clicked on that link yet?) I knew there was no overnight cold rise in its future with me, in fact there was no rising or proofing or any kind; just mixing, baking and eating.

Dinner was a dark and sticky beef stew and I didn't want potatoes, rice or noodles with it. I wanted thick slabs of that mustard flecked loaf cosying up on the plate, with my tender beef and unctuous, slow simmered gravy. I had done my quota of waiting for the day and decided on a quickbread version - in essence a giant scone, as my second boy succintly put it, or  soda bread (it appears St Paddy's not done with me yet).

I had a jar of coarse, stone ground mustard with horseradish, which tastes a heck of a lot better than it sounds, believe me, and hubby's favourite Irish beer so I went with those. Caraway might have been too much of a good thing, given the very robust tang of this particular mustard and the flavourful beer, so, it stayed in the spice jar.

Within minutes my loaf was ready for the oven and barely a half hour passed before it was on my counter, wafting wondrous vapours of beer and mustard. I love hot mustard, horseradish, wasabi and any kind of condiment that bites back,  but you don't have to be a fan to appreciate this loaf. The end result was flavour packed and the nose-tingling aroma of the mustard had transmuted into a midly sweet and salty nuttiness, against the rich, malty background of the beer. And, would you take a look at that bronzed and crackling crust, please!  Baking really is alchemy. What goes into your oven is not always what comes out; usually it's better, oh, so much, better!

As I took this out of the oven to photograph, the light was fading, hence the gauzy shadow of twilight`descending, in my picture. By the time the loaf was cool enough to slice, night had fallen and my humble, trusty point-and-shoot was just not up to the task of capturing it's beautifully airy, mustard grain speckled interior, except under the harsh, unforgiving glare of artifical light. Time for my shameless plug. Uhh.... buy my book, so I can afford me some decent photog equipment? :D

Prep 10 mins     Cook 25 mins     Serves 4 - 6


300g (3 teacups) plain or all-purpose flour
2 - 3 level tsp fine sugar
1 1/2 level tsp salt (adjust according to the saltiness of the mustard)
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
75 g (1/2 teacup) cold, firm butter
175 ml (3/4 teacup) foamless beer
2 Tbsp coarse or whole grain mustard


Preheat oven at 200 C (400 F) and lightly grease a baking tray or line with baking parchment (non-stick baking paper).

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, cream of tartar and baking soda in a large mixing bowl. Stir with a whisk until thoroughly mixed.

Rub in the butter quickly and lightly until the mixture resembles very coarse crumbs with bits of butter still visible here and there.

Stir the mustard and beer together until mustard is no longer clumped up. Pour mixture into the flour and butter mix. Bring everything together into a ball, using a scraper or broad, blunt knife. Knead as little as possible, to achive a dough that holds together.

Shape into a dome and transfer to baking tray. Slash the top into a cross or trellis pattern. Brush the top lightly with egg, milk or water and bake for 20  25 minutes or until golden and crusty and bottom sounds hollow when tapped.

Transfer immediately to a cooling rack and cool completely before slicing. Eat with a rich meat stew or top thick slices with sharp cheddar or your favourite British cheese and toast until bubbling, for a lazy version of Welsh Rabbit (Rarebit?). YUM!

Lovely Stella 

I can't end this post without a shout out to Stella from The Witchy Kitchen. Do you know how lovely a creature she is? Don't take my word for it. These are the words of the lady herself :

" Hey Denise, I just passed these exact awards onto you! I don't expect you to post twice or anything. You don't even need to link to me-just wanted you to know that I think you deserve them. Your friend, Stella "

Not link to you?!?! My mother would probably smack me on the side of my head! Thank you again, you lovely thing! Being appreciated never, ever gets old, no matter how many times it happens :)