Spring is in full bloom in the Southern Highlands of NSW, Australia. I have switched over from the wood fired stove to the fan forced electric oven, where I have much greater control over baking temperatures. This soda bread rises during baking to a light texture, and the addition of yoghurt and two fruits keeps it incredibly moist and naturally sweet. I have added a topping of flaked almonds and light brown sugar to provide a contrast of texture. Serve with your favourite brew of tea or coffee as a mid morning or afternoon pick me up, or add it to your backpack or hamper to share with friends outdoors.

Pear & Raspberry Soda Bread

Left to right: flaked almonds and light brown sugar, beurre bosc pears, frozen raspberries.

Pear & Raspberry Soda Bread

Clockwise from top left: self raising flour, free range eggs, fat free strained Greek style yoghurt, raw caster sugar, vanilla extract, bicarbonate of soda, extra virgin olive oil.

Pear & Raspberry Soda Bread

After peeling, coring and cutting pears, place them in a non reactive bowl of acidulated water to prevent them discolouring, while you prepare other ingredients. Strain before use.

Lightly whisk all wet ingredients together until they form a smooth texture, before adding them to the dry ingredients.

Pear & Raspberry Soda Bread

Place the batter in a lined loaf pan and scatter the topping.

INGREDIENTS

For bread:
2 cups self raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
125g raw caster sugar

1 cup fat free strained natural yoghurt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 large fresh free range eggs
1 tsp natural vanilla extract

3 ripened beurre bosc pears, peeled, cored and sliced into large pieces
120g frozen raspberries

For topping:
1/4 cup soft light brown sugar
1/4 cup flaked almonds

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 170C fan forced. Grease and line a large non stick loaf pan with baking paper. Make sure the paper extends at least 2 cm over both long sides, so you can grip and pull out the baked loaf.
Sieve dry ingredients together into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre.

In another bowl, lightly whisk together all the wet ingredients to form a smooth mixture. Pour it into the well in the dry ingredients and gently combine – do not overwork – to make a stiff batter. Gently fold through the two fruits to avoid breaking up the soft raspberries.

Lightly spread the batter evenly into the loaf pan. Generously sprinkle over the mixed sugar and almond topping. Bake on the centre shelf for at least 40 minutes or longer, until loaf is well risen, a skewer comes out cleanly and the topping is toasted golden brown.

Pear & Raspberry Soda Bread

Allow to cool completely in the pan then lift out by gripping the baking paper on the long sides. Top with extra raspberries and dust lightly with a icing sugar. Serve sliced on its own, with a little dollop cream, or with vanilla yoghurt.