Soda Bread

I have never made, or even tasted, Soda Bread, so I decided it was time to do both.  Soda Bread is very easy to make and it doesn’t use yeast.  Nor does it have to be kneaded.  That is what makes it so simple to make.  The leavening agent for the bread is bicarbonate or soda/baking soda, which is activated by the acid in buttermilk.

If, like me, you don’t have buttermilk you can quickly make a substitute by taking the milk and adding a couple of tablespoons of white vinegar, or lemon juice, then stirring it and leaving it to sit for a while, at least 10 minutes.  You will see that the milk has begun to curdle creating a good substitute.

Although many recipes don’t include any butter or egg I used a little of both to give a richer flavour.  I also added just a teaspoon of sugar as well.

The recipe can be made with plain flour alone which gives a very good loaf, but most often it is with a mixture of wholemeal flour and plain flour.  Personally I would not recommend using only wholemeal flour as the loaf would be too dense, or at least it would for my liking.

My loaf turned out very well indeed.  It had a nice hard crust and was hollow sounding when the base was tapped.  For my own preference I wrapped mine in a clean towel as it was cooling down.  That was to soften the crust to make it chewy, rather than crunchy.  That is entirely a personal preference.

Soda Bread
 Soda Bread – Video

Ingredients:

  • 265g(1. 3/4 cups +2 tbsp)wholemeal flour
  • 265g(1 3/4 cups + 2 tbsp)plain flour
  • 30g(just over 2 tbsp) chilled unsalted butter (cubed)
  • 1 medium egg(large in USA)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 400ml (1 2/3 cups) buttermilk(or substitute as mentioned above)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 215C/205c Fan/425 F.
  2. Line a baking tray with parchment paper, or sprinkle some flour on the tray.
  3. Place the flours, salt, baking soda and sugar into a large bowl and mix around.
  4. Add the butter and rub it into the flour, between your fingers, until it has been fully worked in and there are no lumps of butter remaining.
  5. Make a well in the centre and pour in most of the buttermilk(2 retained about 2 tbsp which could be added later if needed).
  6. Add the egg as well and then quickly, using a hand is good, mix everything together.  The mixture will be very sticky but should start to leave the side of the bowl clean.  If necessary add a little more flour to help that, or if the dough seems a little dry add more buttermilk.
  7. Tip the dough onto a floured work surface and turn over to coat in the flour.  
  8. Don’t knead the dough, simply form it into a ball, about 6 inches/16 cm in diameter and place on the baking tray.  
  9. Flatten the ball into a disc about 7 inches/ 18 cm in diameter.
  10. Using a sharp knife make two cuts to form a cross on the top of the dough, about 1/4 inch deep is fine.
  11. Brush the top of the dough with some milk and then place in the oven.
  12. Bake for 15 minutes at the preheated temperature, then reduce the heat to 200C/180C Fan/400F and bake for a further 30 minutes.
  13. Remove from the oven and test that it is baked by tapping the bottom to hear a hollow sound.  If you hear that sound the bread should be baked.  You can test the internal temperature with a thermometer, which should reach about 96C/205F.  Mine reached 100C.
  14. Cool on a wire rack.  I wrapped mine in a towel to soften the crust but that is a personal preference.

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