Soda bread

I bake my own bread.
I am that woman at school pick-up with a beatific smile on my lips, a faraway look in my eyes, and a picturesque dab of flour on my cheek.
Normally I cycle to school (my bike has a basket), but sometimes I just skip. My children look ruddy and healthy, with shiny eyes, healthy appetites and no encrusted snot anywhere.
You hate me, don’t you?
I don’t blame you. But what about when I tell you that the bread I bake is soda bread and it’s a piece of p*ss to make? Mix some flour and milk in a bowl, shove it in the oven and ta da! 45 minutes later you have a delicious, rustic-looking loaf. There’s no yeast. No complicated waiting around. Just a bit of mixing and a bit of baking. So simple even I can make it. And so can you. And then you too can be the Zen parent in the playground. Wear florals, I think that works best. Or if you’re a bloke, a tank top. I don’t know why, I think maybe it’s got something a bit Hovis about it.
Soda Bread
Start to finish:
10 minutes plus 45 minutes in the oven
Serves: umm, it’s a medium-sized loaf so will probably last a family of 4 a couple of days.
500g plain flour
2 cups of buttermilk. What? You haven’t got buttermilk? L-o-s-e-r. Only joking, neither have I, so this is what I do instead. Add two tablespoons of lemon juice to two cups of milk (semi or whole, whatever you have) and let it stand for five minutes before you use.
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
0.5 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 200C degrees.
Make the buttermilk
Put flour, soda and salt in a large bowl and give a good stir so the ingredients are well distributed. Add the buttermilk and stir until well mixed. The mixture will be less of a dough, and more of a, um, mixture. If it feels too dry add a splash more milk, if too wet a little more flour.
Then flour a surface and plop the lot on there. It’s difficult to knead, but you probably want to give it a bit of a push, try and get it a bit round with your floured hands and then pick it up and place it on a greased or lined baking tray. Using your floured hands or a spatula, poke it so that it is more or less round, it’s incredibly sticky so don’t get too involved. Use a serrated knife to cut a cross in the top and then fling a bit of flour on it to make it look pretty. Pop in the oven for 45 minutes and when you take it out knock its base and make sure it makes a hollow sound. It shouldn’t sound a bit hollow or hollow-ish. It has to sound completely hollow (I’m bored of taking partially cooked bread out of the oven!) and when you hear it properly,  you’ll know it’s right.



  1. I will definitely try this. I have just spent 10 days making a loaf of sourdough (OK so most of it was just waiting around, but still 10 days!)

  2. I make all our bread too, well the bread machine does the hard work and I just chuck the dough into a bread tin and then into the oven.

    I have tried making soda bread before and it came out ok, very heavy and went dry very quickly. The boys were not impressed.

    We can actually get buttermilk here, surprise surprise. It’s called Laban (or something) but the last litre I bought I could never get round to working up the energy to try the soda bread so it went off.

  3. We are big soda bread fans. I add a tablespoon of sugar and a couple of handfuls of raisins to the dry ingredients to jazz it up. Sometimes, if feeling virtuous, also use half wholewheat / half white flour. (Then slather with butter to undo the good…).

  4. There I was, feeling SO smug! And it turns out you lot are at it all the time. Right. I’m going to start making my own pasta.

  5. Love soda bread – so quick and easy, yet tasty too.

  6. I just love soda bread and got some young mums I am teaching to make it this week. They absolutely loved it and nearly ate a whole loaf straight out of the oven!
    I shall be making this regularly on the how to engage your students basis x

  7. Sounds almost too good to be true – I’ll definitely try it. And buy a basket for my bike!

    • Skipping is cheaper, but the basket is more useful.

  8. This is also a great thing to make with tiny tinies, because there is no raw egg so you can let them investigate the batter with confidence. And if you’re baking with your 1 year old, you really are going to be feeling smug!

  9. This is very healthy and surely very tasty. Bookmark it!

  10. After Friday night drinks this made me laugh. I’m sure I would have laughed without the drinks. Happy Friday

  11. Florals do tend to make people think you’re a bit Zen. Maybe that’s why people assume I’m harassed and in need of Botox. It’s the black uniform. Great post. x

  12. Even I can manage this, which says something (I use the Ballymaloe recipe). Just bought tinned artichokes today, too! Love Crumbs :)

  13. I have been making soda bread for over 40 years and I’m not sure if you have made an error in saying 1 TABLESPOON of bicarb of soda to 500g of flour. I usually make 3 loaves at the same time as it saves electricity and time and 2 loaves can be frozen. I was originally shown by my mother and every recipe I have seen uses 1 TEASPOON of bicarb to every 1lb of flour (450g). I usually make my bread with 2lbs of wholemeal flour and 1lb of strong White flour, add some porridge oats and 1teaspoon of bicarb, salt, and baking powder PER 1LB of flour. I love your blog, it certainly is inspiring to help busy people achieve interesting home cooked meals in a short space of time. Thank you

    • You are absolutely right Grandma Mary, I’ve corrected the copy. So sorry about that. And I’m intrigued that you freeze your loaves – what a great idea. I’m going to try it next time.


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