Thursday, 18 November 2010

Soda Bread

This week's dough theme continues with a quick and easy bread. While kneading and proving dough can be lots of fun and is hugely rewarding, sometimes you just don't have the time. So I thought it was time to take a look at bicarbonate of soda.

Soda bread is incredibly easy it is to make. It's just a case of mixing the ingredients together and baking for 40-50 mins. The raising agent here is the carbon dioxide bubbles that form when the bicarbonate of soda reacts with the lactic acid in the buttermilk or yoghurt. Heavy kneading is not required for this and the loaves traditionally have a rustic shape so you don't even need to make it look smooth and pretty. Soda bread has a cross down the centre that cuts almost to the base. Some believe this is to ward off evil or let the fairies out (dude, srsly!), but I prefer to believe that it is there to help the loaf bake evenly. The lines then form natural breaks for you to take hefty chunks to dip in your stew or soup.

The recipe below is for a brown soda, sometimes known as wheaten bread which I served for lunch with a light salmon mousse (just smoked salmon trimmings blended with half a tub of half fat creme fraiche, lemon juice and seasoning) and a carrot and French bean salad. Once you've grown to love this bread you can add plenty to it, from nuts and dried fruit to chocolate. I know somebody who uses hazelnut yoghurt instead of buttermilk and the results are delicious.

 Soda Bread  - makes 1 loaf
  • 225g wholemeal flour
  • 225g plain white flour
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 45g butter
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • approx 400ml  buttermilk or natural yoghurt
  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees and lightly flour an oven tray
  2. Sift all the flour, the bicarbonate of soda and the salt together twice and then rub in the butter as you would for a crumble
  3. Stir the sugar through the mixture and make a well in the centre. Add the buttermilk/yoghurt incrementally and mix with your hand until a rough soft dough forms
  4. Now knead the dough very gently until it forms a round shape, place on the oven tray and cut a deep thick cross into the centre, nearly all the way to the baking sheet.  A wooden spoon handle is good for this job
  5. Bake for 40-50 mins until golden brown and the bottom is hollow to tap. If the cross still feels damp it needs a little longer
  6. Cool on a wire rack 


  1. I love the idea of trying it with the hazlenut yoghurt - inspired!

  2. hmm, with a sprinkling of sultanas and covered with butter. Heaven.

  3. Hi Jane, have just found your blog and am in complete awe of your new life - it's something I dream of doing but aren't brave enough at the moment. One day... Anyway, love the hazelnut yoghurt idea too. We have friends dropping in for breakfast tomorrow morning and I think this is what they're going to get!

  4. Oh you must! It's so worth it.

  5. I just made a hazelnut batch. It's superb! Husband's honest opinion is that it's too sweet for soup (oops - but I thought it worked really well) but would be perfect with butter and jam.

  6. You should try doing potato bread as well - you'll be able to rustle up an Ulster Fry!