If you love the thought of making bread at home but feel intimidated by all the steps, is the place to start. It requires no kneading, no proving and you can have a batch ready to eat in under an hour. Perfect for those times you run out of bread or unexpected visitors turn up and expect to be fed. You don’t need a bread maker, you don’t need any expertise, you don’t even need fancy strong flour and you can easily make it dairy free. At its simplest it is made from only four ingredients, and two of those you can vary to use up ingredients you already have in the house. You can make it white or wholemeal, add seeds, currants, cheese and onion, anything you like really. It’s heavier than yeast breads, with a hard crust and a cake-like moist but crumbly consistency. It’s difficult to cut into thin slices, but that’s no disadvantage. For me it’s best torn from the loaf and dunked in a hot bowl of soup or cut into thick doorstop slices and smothered with butter and jam.

Ingredient choices and options

For me one of the real advantages of soda bread is that I can vary the ingredients with what I have to hand and what I need to use up. Irish traditionalists would not approve, and I mean no disrespect to their traditional version, but for those of you who love to experiment, here is some background on the key ingredients you can change…and the one you need to leave well alone.

The true beauty of soda bread is the speed it can be made. It is the polar opposite of yeast based bread where leaving the dough to rise can almost be open ended.   With this form of bread, bicarbonate of soda (bicarb) is used as the leavening agent and once you have added the wet to the dry ingredients you do not let it proof. If you wait around the bicarb will have spent its leavening power and the airy nature of your bread will actually be lost! Given that the magic ingredient in this bread is the bicarb, it is very important not to confuse this ingredient with powder. They are NOT the same thing and should not be used interchangeably. Bicarb needs a wet acidic ingredient to activate it (like buttermilk or yoghurt) whereas powder is bicarb with an acid component already combined, so it just needs some moisture to activate it. That acidic component often used in soda is cream of tartar in a ratio of 2 parts cream of tartar to 1 part bicarb. The way I have described soda, it sounds like some kind of next generation, less fuss, bicarb replacement. In fact, powder is only about one-third soda so if you were to sub in powder for bicarb you would need to triple the quantity used in the recipe and the extra acid added to make the powder work would give a unpleasant bitter flavour.

NOTE: If you are about to brush the dust off your container of bicarbonate of soda in the back of your cupboard to give this recipe a try, it’s a good idea to test its potency before you use it, or your first loaf of bread could be a flat one. The lifespan of bicarb is not indefinite and with time (about 12 months) it will lose potency. This is particularly the case if the container is poorly sealed. To test the bicarb, add 1/2 a teaspoon to half a cup of vinegar. If it bubbles up immediately with vigour your soda is good to use, otherwise you are going to need a new batch.

Wet acid ingredient

Traditional, incorporates buttermilk as the liquid component. Leftover whey from cheese-making also works great. But unless you make your own dairy products these are products that you are unlikely to have lying around the house. Thankfully, there are a number of more common household ingredients you can use instead. Probably the cheapest is milk curdled with either lemon juice or vinegar. To make this simply warm up 400ml of milk, add a teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar, leave for 10 minutes, then use. Yogurt is another great option. I think beer is my favourite however, depending on the type it imparts a flavour all of its own and as we make home-brew, we generally have a batch in the house.

Flour

Traditional Irish soda bread is made from wholemeal flour. Wholemeal flour and plain flour work equally well, but the white produces a lighter loaf. For the goodness of brown with the lightness of white, you can also use half of each.

How to make Soda Bread

The following are some of our favourite variations on soda bread where yoghurt, beer or buttermilk are used as the acidic wet ingredient. My favourite is the beer and cheese version, but the olive and sun-dried tomato is a very close second!

Basic Soda Bread

Ingredients

– 500g plain flour

– 1.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda

– 1 tsp fine sea salt

– 400ml buttermilk

Method

Step 1. Preheat the oven to 200oC and place a tray of boiling water in the bottom.

Step 2. Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir in the salt.

Step 3. Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk, stirring as you go.  It should form a soft, not too sticky dough.

Step 4. Tip the dough out on to a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly for about a minute to bring it all together.   Note: Unlike yeast-based bread it is important not to work the dough for too long or let the dough rest as by the time the dough enters the oven the bicarbonate will not have the same rising action

Step 5. Dust generously with flour and with a sharp, serrated knife, mark a cross in the top of the loaf. Place on a baking sheet or peel and transfer to oven. Ideally cook on a baking stone.

Step 6. Bake for about 35-45 minutes.  The Rayburn we use can be a bit on the unpredictable side and at 35 minutes I will check the loaf and if the crust is done I will turn the loaf over and bake the bottom. When ready, The crust should be golden brown and the loaf should sound hollow when tapped underneath.   If uncertain, use a thermometer to measure core temperature, which should be 900C.

We can make this loaf using leftover buttermilk or whey for approximately $1, but cost will vary depending on the ingredients used, and what you have on hand.

Sun-dried Tomato and Olive Soda Bread

Ingredients

– 500g plain flour

– 1.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda

– 1 tsp fine sea salt

– 400ml yoghurt

– 80g chopped sun-dried tomato

– 80g of chopped olives

Method

Step 1. Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir in the salt, tomatoes and olives.

Step 2. Make a well in the centre and then mix in the yoghurt.

Follow recipe as with Irish soda bread.

Beer and Cheese Soda Bread

Ingredients

– 500g plain flour

– 1.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda

– 1 tsp fine sea salt

– 350ml beer (or whey)

– Parmesan

– 200g grated tasty cheddar

– Pepper

Method

Step 1. Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl

Step 2. Stir in the salt and cheddar, make a well and mix in the beer

Follow recipe as with Irish soda bread BUT at the end of stage 5 sprinkle the Parmesan over the loaf.

I think all versions are best eaten fresh, but they are still pretty good the next day. If you have any questions or comments as always just comment below and I will get back to you.

Make Bread at Home in Under an Hour - Soda Bread Recipes
 
If you love the thought of making bread at home but feel intimidated by all the steps, soda bread is the place to start. It requires no kneading, no proving and you can have a batch ready to eat in under an hour. Perfect for those times you run out of bread or unexpected visitors turn up and expect to be fed.
Author:
Serves: 1 loaf
Ingredients
Basic Soda Bread
  • 500g plain flour
  • 1.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 400ml buttermilk
Sun Dried Tomato and Olive Soda Bread
  • 500g plain flour
  • 1.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 400ml yoghurt
  • 80g chopped sun-dried tomato
  • 80g of chopped olives
Beer and Cheese Soda Bread
  • 500g plain flour
  • 1.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 350ml beer (or whey)
  • Parmesan
  • 200g grated tasty cheddar
  • Pepper
Instructions
Basic Soda Bread
  1. Preheat the oven to 200oC and place a tray of boiling water in the bottom
  2. Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir in the salt
  3. Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk, stirring as you go. It should form a soft, not too sticky dough.
  4. Tip the dough out on to a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly for about a minute to bring it all together. Note: Unlike yeast-based bread it is important not to work the dough for too long or let the dough rest as by the time the dough enters the oven the bicarbonate will not have the same rising action
  5. Dust generously with flour and with a sharp, serrated knife, mark a cross in the top of the loaf. Place on a baking sheet or peel and transfer to oven. Ideally cook on a baking stone
  6. Bake for about 35-45 minutes. The Rayburn we use can be a bit on the unpredictable side and at 35 minutes I will check the loaf and if the crust is done I will turn the loaf over and bake the bottom. When ready, The crust should be golden brown and the loaf should sound hollow when tapped underneath. If uncertain, use a thermometer to measure core temperature, which should be 900C.
Sun Dried Tomato and Olive Soda Bread
  1. Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir in the salt, tomatoes and olives
  2. Make a well in the centre and then mix in the yoghurt
Beer and Cheese Soda Bread
  1. Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl
  2. Stir in the salt and cheddar, make a well and mix in the beer

 


Related Posts


1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*

Rate this recipe:  

After you have typed in some text, hit ENTER to start searching...