Thursday, 24 November 2011

Recipe corner - Exceptionally easy brown soda bread

So, bread. The idea of making bread scares me a little bit which is odd because usually I am quite gung-ho about cooking in general. And I have been baking since I was knee high to a grandmother. But bread? Nope, slightly wary.

It was our recent trip to Roganic that inspired me to take a little baby step into the world of bread making. We were served the most delicious brown soda rolls while we were there (see below, second from front), dense and sweet.
The Roganic bread basket
I knew (or rather, had a vague idea) that soda bread didn’t involve any messing around with yeast and suchlike. So I took to the net and lo, found a recipe for a brown soda bread by the Irish Goddess that is Rachel Allen. And last weekend I dusted off my beautiful Kitchen Aid (which I have not named, no, really, I haven’t), and set to making the most basic version.

 As you’ll see the result is somewhat…well, let’s be honest, rustic. A little misshapen, a little clumsy looking. But I suspect that no baker has ever been prouder of a loaf. It tasted surprisingly good as well, especially considering how little effort was involved. We ate it on Sunday evening with some good Italian cheese – and I suspect D’s enjoyment was only very slightly marred by me saying, “I made bread!” in a wondering tone after every bite.


225g wholemeal flour
225g plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 egg
375-400ml buttermilk*

(*Instead of buttermilk I used normal skimmed milk with a hefty squirt of lemon juice. Set this aside for about ten minutes before using.)

Serves 12, 4 pro points per serving

Preheat the oven to 220.

Sift together the flours, salt and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre.

In another bowl, whisk the egg into the buttermilk. Pour most of the liquid (I went for about two thirds) into the flour mixture. Using your hands with your fingers outstretched like a claw OR the dough hook of a beloved food mixer, bring the flour and liquid together, adding more liquid as necessary (I didn’t use the full 400ml in the end). The dough should be quite soft, but not too sticky.

Turn onto a floured work surface and gently bring it together into a round about 4cm deep. Or, as per the picture above, something vaguely approximating a puddle shape. Cut a deep cross on the top (this is to let the fairies out!)

Place on a lightly oiled baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 200 and bake for a further 30 minutes.

The loaf is cooked when it sounds slightly hollow when tapped on the base. Although to be honest I spent quite a long time knocking it wondering exactly how that sounds. Maybe a seasoned bread baker would have less difficulty. In any case, the timings provided seemed to work well.

This is best eaten on the day it is baked, preferably still warm from the oven and oozing with butter. However, we stored the loaf under a tea towel and ate some the following evening and it was still fine for dunking in soup.


  1. I LOVE SODA BREAD! it is so easy and rustic and...a great step towards yeast breads!! :)

  2. Ooooh get you, you made bread!!! It looks rather scrummy mrs.

    How about "Rachel" for the kitchen aid?? Or something suitably retro and stepford wives-ish... peggy??

    Lex xxx

  3. Making brown bread (the Irish don't call it Irish or Soda bread unless they're talking to tourists!!) is one of the many good things I learned from my now ex mother in law. It's delish and v easy....welcome to the club!

    Lesley xx