Sodabread is easy to make and way tastier than square loaves.

Soda bread

Fast, easy and tasty, soda bread is a great starter bread and a recipe that lets you fancy up home made soup or make Sunday breakfast a little more special without the complication of yeast and proving.

A note on acidity: Normally, this recipe calls for buttermilk, a somewhat acidic dairy product that most people don’t have in their fridge. I have swapped it for milk and vinegar. It can be made with any liquid – left-over stock, starchy potato-water, whey from making goats cheese – but it has to be acidic to activate the bicarbonate of soda. Vinegar or lemon juice provides the acid.

A note on wet dough: If you’ve ever worked with a soft, non-sticky yeast dough, forget all about it. This is a wet dough. It can be hopelessly sticky and still work. Don’t worry about sticky fingers, you don’t have to knead this, just shape it into a rough circle.

Serves: 4-8. Preparation: 15-45 minutes. Cooking time: 30 minutes. Stores: For a day or two in a bag. For up to three months in the freezer: let cool completely and slice before bagging and freezing.


  • 250 grams plain flour
  • 250 grams wholemeal flour
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 420 ml milk or soya milk
  • 1.5 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons treacle or syrup (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped herbs, sage or thyme, are good (optional)
  • Extra plain flour for dusting the work surface.


  • Large bowl
  • Scales
  • Measuring jug
  • Tablespoon measure, or table spoon
  • Teaspoon measure, or teaspoon
  • Pestle and mortal (if using seeds)
  • Chopping board (if using fresh herbs)
  • Sharp knife (if using fresh herbs)
  • Wooden spoon
  • Baking sheet
  • Greaseproof paper
  • Wire rack (optional)


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
  2. Put the bowl on the scales and zero.
  3. Weight out the flour into the bowl.
  4. Add the bicarbonate of soda and mix well. The soda should be evenly distributed for a good, even rise.
  5. Grind and chop spices and herbs (if using).
  6. In the measuring jug, measure out the treacle (if using). This is where the stickiness starts. Don’t worry about it being too accurate. (It’s about 5 grams, if you prefer to weight it out.)
  7. Add the liquid and acid to the jug, then the spices and herbs.
  8. Let sit for five to ten minutes. This lets the spices infuse a little, and it also lets the milk curdle. Don’t worry that it doesn’t look very pretty.
  9. Mix most of the liquid with the flour. Keep a little back, say 20 ml, to add if the dough is too dry.
  10. Mix quickly – using your hands is fast and efficient, but a wooden spoon works too.
  11. Flour the work surface and tip out the dough.
  12. Knead it quickly, if it’s not too wet. If very wet, sprinkle with more flour.
  13. Shape into a rough round.
  14. Put the greaseproof paper on the baking sheet and move the dough there. Smooth and even into a roundish shape.
  15. Cut the round into 4 pieces and move slightly apart.
  16. Leave for up to half an hour to let the bicarbonate start its work. (Or cook as soon as the oven is hot enough.)
  17. Cook in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes, or until dark brown. Tap it on the bottom – if it sounds hollow, it’s ready. If it doesn’t, leave for another five minutes and try again. (You can also break the pieces apart – if they come away cleanly, they’re cooked. If there are raw of sticky strands between the two pieces, it needs more time.
  18. Let cool completely in a wire rack.
  19. Break into quarters.

Serve either cut into slices, or cut each quarter half lengthwise. It’s great with soup, or with cheese. Did I mention goats cheese? It is best on the day it is made but toasts nicely and is tasty that way for another couple of days.


  • Add veg: finely grate a carrot or small courgette and add to the dough.
  • Super-plain: exclude sweetener and flavourings for a plain as you can be – but still yummy – soda bread.
  • Play with flours: I like to use half the quantity of wholemeal and make up the difference with 125 grams wholemeal rye. It makes the bread a little darker and adds an earthy flavour.
  • Go mediterranean: Swap the spices for about two teaspoons of dried herbs: thyme, oregano, rosemary, swap treacle for honey (or leave out), use balsamic vinegar as the acid and sprinkle with sea salt before cooking.
  • Make it a loaf: Put the dough in an oiled loaf tin, cut through the middle to make a deep valley, and put it in a 200C oven. After half an hour, reduce the heat to 160C and leave for another 30 minutes. (If the loaf looks dark, cover with aluminium foil.) The load sounds

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