Bread is supposed to be the staff of life—not a murder weapon.
Every baker has their weak spot. For Poppy it’s bread. So, when The Great British Baking Contest hits bread week, she’s as fragile as an overbaked croissant. Just when she needs to keep all her focus on flour, water, yeast and salt, another ingredient enters the mix. Death.
Someone is not who they appear to be, and secrets from the past are bringing deadly consequences to the present. Poppy isn’t only a contestant in the long-running TV show, she’s also a witch and reluctant amateur sleuth. With the rest of her coven, assorted animal helpers and her ghostly sidekick Gerry, Poppy needs to solve the murder before someone else dies.
Set in the beautiful Somerset countryside, the Great Witches Baking Contest stories are all linked, but they can be read as stand alone cozy mysteries. There is no swearing, gore or sex. Just an entertaining cozy mystery with witches, ghosts, a little romance–and recipes!
From the USA Today Bestselling author of The Vampire Knitting Club.
Poppy’s Special Recipe for Caramelized Red Onion and Mature Cheddar Soda Bread
Okay, so bread is not my forte … more like my downfall, if we’re going to be honest here. But I can promise you that this recipe for soda bread is foolproof—even I managed to master this technique. If only I hadn’t been so distracted on signature bake day, then maybe I might still be in the competition, but there’s no time now for regrets. I’ve got to dust off my bread books and report for duty at Broomewode Inn next week. So I’ll be practicing this larder staple a few more times in the coming days. If you caramelize the onions perfectly and make sure you’re extra generous with the cheese (extra mature cheddar for good measure), then you can’t go wrong. You’re aiming for a sweet, buttery smell as the onions sweat down slowly—very slowly. When this part is done right, the whole bread sings with the sweetness of the onion and the gorgeous tang of melted cheese, which adds a salty depth to the loaf. I’m salivating just thinking about it. What also makes it a winner in my eyes is that it uses the most basic of store cupboard staple items. The only drawback is that it tastes best eaten on the day it’s baked. My advice is to serve the loaf still warm from the oven and slather each slice in salty, good-quality butter for an extra-indulgent kick. In the rare event you have any leftovers, then this recipe also makes for excellent toast the next day. I like to put a bit of extra cheese on mine to make a warm toastie.
- 1/2 small red onion sliced and then diced
- 50 g butter 3.5 tbsp
- 1 tbsp of rapeseed oil Canola
- 75 g mature cheddar grated (I cup)
- 400 g self-rising flour 3 cups + 2 tsp baking powder
- 250 ml buttermilk I cup
- 1.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda baking soda
First up, you’re going to need to get that oven preheated. You don’t want that dough hanging around longer than it has to, so turn that dial to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Now heat a large frying pan over a low to medium heat and add your butter and your oil at the same time. Wait until the two ingredients have merged together (you might need to give them a swirl with a wooden spoon here).
Now it’s time for those onions. Make sure you’ve diced the onion evenly, otherwise it will cook at different times and you might end up with burnt bits (a big no-no for this bread). Fry them very slowly, stirring occasionally until they become soft, sweet and sticky. Set your pan aside to cool.
Next up is your flour and baking soda, which you need to mix together in a large bowl until thoroughly combined. Grate your cheese (I dare you to not nibble at a chunk) and add it to the flour bowl alongside your cooled-down onions.
Now slowly add your buttermilk and stir to form a dough. This is the part I find most tricky, so be careful with this step—you want your dough to feel sticky but not wet. You’ll likely need the entire jug of buttermilk, but you can also judge this by hand by focusing on the texture of your dough.
When you’re happy with the dough, turn it onto a floured surface and knead very lightly (seriously, guys, a light touch is everything here) until your dough is an oval or round shape. Gently place it on a baking tray or in a loaf tray/cast-iron pan, depending on what you have to hand. With a sharp knife, score the dough with a cross shape. It should go almost all the way through your loaf but not quite to the bottom.
Sprinkle with flour and send your dough into the oven with a little well-wishing prayer for 35-40 minutes. Keep a close eye on it during those last few minutes of baking—you don’t want to burn the crust. You’ll know your loaf is ready when the bottom feels and sounds hollow when you tap it.
All that’s left now is to enjoy your loaf … spread with butter or add a little extra cheese.