This quick and bread is super easy and fast to make, and it tastes great, for the effort and ingredients taken, too! It relies on chemical reactions between baking soda and the acid in buttermilk (or sour milk), so no yeast needed. Take it easy and in 1 hour’s time you have a freshly baked bread with a crisp crust and soft interior. Make it plain or add your favourite nuts or dried fruit for even tastier loaf. I’ve made two variations of Soda bread. One is a basic, plain loaf and the other one is Jamie Oliver’s wholewheat and oat soda bread from his latest book.
Contrary to popular belief, soda bread wasn’t invented by Irish bakers. In fact, food historians give credit of first using soda to leaven bread to the Native Americans, who used pearl ash to help their breads rise. Over the years, the Irish people have definitely made this delicious treat their own and are most commonly associated with this diverse and delectable food. Traditionally, Irish soda bread can be white or brown, sometimes contains raisins, and often has a cross in the top of each loaf. White soda breads are often enjoyed at breakfast or to soak up stew at dinner.
Blog-checking lines: For the month of September Meredith from the Poco Loco Olsons challenged us to experiment with soda bread.
Plain Irish Soda Bread
The recipe makes 1 loaf.
- 1 lb. (450 g or 3-1/2 cups) all-purpose flour, more as needed
- 3/4 t baking soda
- 1 t salt
- 375-400 g (1-1/2 – 1-3/4 cups) buttermilk or Greek yogurt
Heat the oven to 450°F/ 230°C. Lightly flour a large baking sheet lined with baking paper or mat.
Sift all of the dry ingredients into a large, wide mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in 1½ cups/ 375 g of the buttermilk. Stir with one hand, moving in circles to incorporate the buttermilk into the dry ingredients. If necessary, add more buttermilk: 1 T at a time until the dough just barely comes together. The dough should be soft—don’t overwork it. Since there’s no yeast here, there’s no need to work the dough at all, or the bread may come out very dense and brick-hard.
Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and pat into a round about 1 ½”/ 3,5 cm tall. With a thin, sharp knife, score a cross on the dough about ¼”/ 8 mm deep.
Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 400°F/ 200°C and bake until the bread is browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, another 20-30 min.
Cool to room temperature on a rack. The bread is best on the day of baking.
The second variation is from Jamie Oliver’s latest book Everyday Superfood. The recipe is also easy and straight-forward. He offers to use rye, wholewheat flours and oats here for a healthy kick. I didn’t have rye flour in hand so I experimented adding barley flour instead and it also came out beautifully and tasty. This one was my winner compared to the plain version.
Wholewheat and rye soda bread
The recipe makes 1 loaf.
- 250 g wholewheat flour, plus extra for dusting
- 100 g rye (or barley) flour
- 50 g porridge oats
- 1 t baking soda
- 1 t sea salt
- 1 large egg
- 300 ml buttermilk or natural yogurt
Preheat the oven to 375ºF/ 190ºC. Lightly flour a large baking sheet lined with baking paper or mat.
Place both flours, the oats, baking soda and salt in a large bowl and mix together.
In a separate bowl or measuring cup, whisk the egg and buttermilk together, then use a fork to stir the mixture into the flour. Once it starts to come together, use your lightly floured hands to pat and bring the dough together.
Shape the dough into a round ball and place on a lightly floured baking tray, dusting the top lightly with flour, too. Flatten the dough into a disc, roughly 1¼”/ 3 cm thick. Score a cross or star on the top with a knife, about ¼”/ ½ cm deep, then bake in the oven for 40-45 min., or until a firm crust has formed and it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack to cool.