This bread is so easy to make and absolutely delicious. Using just flour, baking soda, salt and buttermilk, there’s no proving and no kneading which means you can have a fresh loaf of bread on the table in less than an hour. It’s also a really good way of introducing kids to bread making, as they see results quickly.
Soda bread traditionally uses sodium bicarbonate as a leavening agent instead of yeast. The acid in the buttermilk reacts with the sodium bicarbonate (also known as bicarbonate of soda and baking soda) which gives the rise.
Before I got going with this recipe, I sought the advice of a lovely friend of mine, Christine, who lives in Northern Ireland (a good place to start when talking about soda bread). A lovely chat later and she provided me with a recipe from one of her mum’s cook books which was written in 1960. So thanks to Christine and Mrs S too xx
I made a smaller version of the original, but it still makes a good sized loaf. Soda bread is best eaten on the day of baking but can be toasted the day after.
250g strong wholemeal flour
250g plain flour
1 tsp baking soda (don’t confuse with baking powder)
1 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (180 degrees C fan, gas mark 6) and look out a baking sheet.
Seive together all the dry ingredients twice, making sure to tip the bran back in and mix well.
Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add 200ml of the buttermilk. You may not need all of the 400mls, it all depends on the flour you’re using. With a round bladed knife, start to mix the flour into the buttermilk. Keep adding the buttermilk until all the flour has been incorporated and you have a sticky dough.
Now it’s important to be quick because the buttermilk has already started to react with the baking soda. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and form it into a ball. Flatten it with the palm of your hand slightly and move the dough onto a baking sheet. With a sharp knife, slice a deep cross into the top of the dough, almost right through but not quite. Dust with flour.
Bake the loaf for 30 – 40 minutes until it’s golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the base. Leave it to cool on a wire rack.
It’s really good sliced and buttered while still a bit warm!
Once you’ve mastered the basic recipe you can add different flavours to the bread. I may post some variations soon.
Enjoy! K x