Tuesday 26 January 2016

Cheese, Ham and Balsamic Onion Sodabread

It's been a manic weekend, with two birthdays in the house, lots of cycling, and a trip to Ikea!

I needed a savoury snack to take to the bike race on Saturday, so decided to do a sodabread I had on my "to do" list for a while, but I tweaked the ingredients list to make it cheaper. I love balsamic vinegar, so I was really looking forward to a strong kick from this from the onion.

In term of time, the slowest thing is cooking and cooling the onions... I actually did this recipe twice, the second time splitting the recipe into 2 smaller loaves, and found the quickest way of cooling the onions was to spread them out on a large plate. For the ham, I used a Waitrose pot of smoked ham...they do a number of these small, pre-chopped tubs of meats, and I find them great at adding flavour quickly to recipes (I'm a real fan of adding in chorizo, everyone likes it, and it adds a strong, smoky paprika flavour to anything). For the cheese, I used a strong cheddar, which again is a bit of a crowd-pleaser.

Cheese, Ham and Balsamic Onion Sodabread Recipe

  • Pre-heat oven to 175'C
  • Line a baking tray (or use a non-stick one)


  • Splash of Olive Oil
  • 1 ½ onions, finely sliced
  • 4 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
  • 1tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 450g plain flour
  • 2tsp bicorbonate of soda
  • 1tsp of sea salt
  • 30g of unsalted butter (chilled)
  • 90g smoked ham
  • 200g strong cheddar cheese...gated or diced (I preferred diced)
  • 2tsbp chopped parsley
  • 300ml buttermilk
  • small amount of melted butter (to glaze)

 1) Heat the oil in a frying pan on a medium heat

2) Add the sliced onion, stir, then reduce the heat and cover for 15 minutes

3) Add in the balsamic vinegar and sugar, increase the heat and cook while stirring for 5 minutes (until all the juices have been absorbed)

4) Turn the onions onto a plate, and spread out to let them cool

5) Sift the flour, bicarb and salt into a large mixing bowl.

6) Rub in the chilled butter until fully incorporated

7) Add in cheese, ham, parsley and cooled onions. You might want to keep some of the filling aside to decorate the top (I did for my first loaf, didn't for the second...it's really personal preference)

8) Put 25ml of cold water into a mixing jug, and add the buttermilk, then mix

9) Add the buttermilk to the mixing bowl, and using a wooden spoon fold the mixture together.

10) You're looking to just have everything incorporated into a dough...I found it was best to get your hand in the bowl, and fold in any dry ingredients into the main dough ball.

11) Once you have a dough, you can either use as a single loaf, of split into 2 smaller loaves (~580g each). Form an oblong loaf and place on the baking tray

12) Score the top of the loaf into ~1 inch squares, and sprinkle with flour

13) If you've kept some filling to decorate, spread this over the top

14) Place in the oven for 30 minutes (if you are doing 2 smaller loaves, check after 25 minutes)

15) Turn out onto a wire rack

16) Liberally spread the outside of the loaves with melted butter

17) Allow to cool completely

18) I found this to be particularly nice either lightly toasted, or popped in the microwave for 10-2 seconds!