Made without yeast or eggs, soda bread is a form of quick bread – so called because you don’t need to leave it to rise. Instead, it’s leavened with bicarbonate of soda which reacts with the buttermilk or yoghurt to create tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide which make the bread rise. This means that you can enjoy a delicious, fresh loaf of bread in less than an hour!
It’s the perfect accompaniment for a warm, rich stew, or equally delicious hot from the oven and spread with salty butter and sweet jam – a perfect recipe for autumn!
250g plain flour
250g wholemeal flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
Approx 400ml buttermilk or live yoghurt
A little milk, if necessary
Sift the flours and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir in the salt. Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk, stirring as you go. If necessary, add a tablespoon or two of milk to bring the mixture together; it should form a soft dough, just this side of sticky.
Tip it out on to a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly for about a minute, just long enough to pull it together into a loose ball but no longer – you need to get it into the oven while the bicarb is still doing its stuff. You’re not looking for the kind of smooth, elastic dough you’d get with a yeast-based bread.
Put the round of dough on a lightly floured baking sheet and dust generously with flour. Mark a deep cross in it with a sharp, serrated knife, cutting about two-thirds of the way through the loaf. Put it in an oven preheated to 200°C/Gas Mark 6 and bake for 40-45 minutes, until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath.