Soda bread is one of the easiest bread recipes you can make. Even if you are a beginner and you've never made bread before you can bake this recipe! Trust me!
My bread baking course's students are always surprised how easy this soda bread recipe is and laugh when I tell, them that they need to pretty much forget what I've just told them about baking yeasted bread! None of the rules apply here!
Firstly, there is no kneading with this bread. The quicker you are with your mixing and the more haphazard you are with putting everything together the better the bread!
If you've ever baked scones, you'll know that if you handle the dough for too long or overmix it, you'll end up with a low risen scones and they will be quite tough too.
The same applies to soda bread. Let the soda or baking powder do its own job by throwing everything together and leave it alone!
Secondly, you need to use a 'cake' or a low gluten flour for this bread. So, think plain 'cake' flour or wholemeal plain flour. Pretty much anything you'd use for normal cake baking.
Because we are using baking powder as the raising agent, you need the lightness of the plain flour rather than the gluten heavy bread flour.
The traditional recipe has plain white flour as the base, but there is no reason why you couldn't use other types of flours, for example, wholemeal plain flour or rye and spelt flours. If you are using gluten free flours (buckwheat flour, coconut, rice, potato flours) or very low gluten flours (rye, spelt), make sure that you use a little bit of plain white flour too, unless you really don't have any other flour left in your cupboard.
The plain white flour adds lightness to the bread. You can, of course, use any type of low gluten flour and the bread will always taste differently. But that's part of the fun of making this bread.
Soda bread was traditionally baked in Ireland, and the original recipe uses baking soda and buttermilk as ingredients. The soda and buttermilk react together, which is what makes the bread so light and fluffy.
I've replaced the baking soda with baking powder because quite a lot of people can taste the funny baking soda aftertaste (it's like a metallic taste on your tongue when you swallow the bread).
I've also replaced the buttermilk and given you a couple of options here. If you want to bake super budget-friendly soda bread, just use water.
If you wanted to use the traditional buttermilk, but either can't get it in the shops, or you want to save a bit of money, you can make your own buttermilk at home. All you need is about 300ml of milk (any milk is fine, but you get more flavour with full-fat creamy milk) and add 2-3 tablespoons of white vinegar. If you don't have white vinegar any vinegar or white wine vinegar is absolutely fine. Mix it in and leave to stand while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Soda Bread Recipe without Buttermilk
500g plain flour
1 ½ teaspoon of salt (or to taste)
4 tsp baking powder
300ml of water or milk with 2 table spoons of vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 200C (Gas Mark 6).
- Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix in the water or milk with vinegar to make a dry looking dough.
- Tip everything on a kitchen surface and bring together carefully by kneading the dough very briefly.
- If the dough looks like it's too dry (it needs to be fairly dry) and not coming together, add a tablespoon of milk or water.
- The dough should be fairly dry and flakey when you finish with it.
- Divide the dough into two and then shape the bread into two rough rounds.
- Pat to flatten until about 4cm high, flour the loaves all over and place on a baking tray.
- Now cut a cross in the top of each loaf with a plastic scraper, almost through to the bottom. This helps the heat to get directly to the centre of the bread and give the bread a really nice rise.
- Bake for 20-25minutes or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the base, then allow to cool for a few minutes on a wire rack.
This soda bread is best eaten on the same day, or you can freeze it for up to three months.
I hope you enjoy baking this soda bread recipe and I'd love to know how you get on!