In 1935, a small brewery in Llanelli began producing its beer in cans. By using its family
links in the tinplate industry and closely observing what the big brewers were doing across
the pond in America, Felinfoel Brewery was the first to can beer in Wales, the UK and
Europe. The brewery was the only one allowed to can and sell beer for the home market
during the Second World War and additional batches were sent to the troops abroad,
wherever they were based.
In honour of this feat of engineering and brewing, here’s my favourite recipe for soda bread;
a bread that both my grandmothers would make and bake if yeast wasn’t available. However, they didn’t use beer or cheese in their loaves!
prep: 15-20 minutes, cook: 30 minutes
Ingredients (for one loaf)
180g self-raising brown flour
160g spelt flour, plus extra for dusting
½ tsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
150g extra mature or vintage Cheddar cheese, cut into 1cm cubes
280ml Felinfoel beer
1 Preheat the oven to 200°C fan/220°C/gas mark 7, and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper, dusted with flour.
2. Place the flours, salt, bicarbonate of soda and cheese cubes in a mixing bowl and stir to combine.
3. Make a well in the middle, add the beer and bring the dough into a ball using a dough scraper or a spatula.
4. Tip the dough out onto a flour-dusted surface. Roughly shape it into a ball and place on the prepared baking tray – it will be sticky, so don’t handle it too much.
5. Use a sharp knife to make a cross in the dough.
6. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes and leave to cool slightly before slicing.
Taken from Feeding My Army, the recipe book in which military wife and TV cook Beca Lyne-Pirkis showcases delicious food designed to keep us all going. From wartime hardship meals to fayre fit for a prime minister, every page delivers recipes inspired by her family’s experience of over a hundred years of army life. Published by Gomer Press. www.gomer.co.uk