It’s hard to come up with things that beat a fresh, homemade bread. The smell alone is worth it. As much as I like a good sourdough bread, sometimes you need a quick fix. Less time commitment, but still a perfect loaf. Give this classic a try, it needs no kneading and no time to rise.
I’ve never been to Ireland, but I vividly remember buying a soda bread at one of Londons numerous farmers markets. I felt in love immediately. It has a nice crust and a very soft crumb and comes with a deep grain flavour. Just an awesome bread. From there on I’ve stumbled over soda bread quite a few times, but only on television: Paul Hollywood in Dublin, Jamie Oliver “at home” and the last time via a documentary on Connemara. Gladly this time I’ve decided to finally give it a try.
Credits where credits are due: this recipe is heavily inspired by Jamie Olivers soda bread. I’ve made a few adaptations though: I love rye flour, so I’ve added some to the flour mix. And buttermilk is sold in 500ml tubs here, so I’ve upscaled the recipe to use the whole thing and not just 300ml.
Soda bread already is known for its soft dough, the rye flour makes it even softer and a little bit sticky. So don’t panic, it is normal that the dough resembles more of a cake batter than a traditional bread dough. Use plenty of flour to handle the dough and prevent it from sticking to your hands and work surface.
- 350g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 140g rye flour
- 70g porridge oats
- 1,5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1,5 tsp sugar (or runny honey)
- 1 generous tsp of salt
- 1 large egg
- 500ml buttermilk
- optional: substitute up to 10g of rye flour with baking malt
- Preheat oven to 190°C.
- Place all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
- Break up the egg and beat it lightly with a fork just to mix the yolk with the white.
- Add the egg and the buttermilk to the dry ingredients and bring together using a fork or food processor. Don’t overwork the dough!
- Shape the dough into a ball and place onto a lightly floured baking tray.
- Score a cross into the top of the bread. Cut right to the bottom, this helps in rising the bread.
- Bake in the center of the oven for about 60 minutes.
- Turn the bread out onto a wire rack to cool, then serve slightly warm.
The macros of soda bread aren’t massively different from normal bread, so just track an equal amount of rye bread.
Proper storage and further ideas
Soda bread is best when eaten almost straight from the oven, but it will stay good for at least three to four days if stored properly. I wrap it in a clean kitchen towel and cover it with a large upturned bowl. Don’t wrap it in plastic, this traps too much humidity and creates the perfect environment for moulds to grow.
You can change up the recipe quite a lot if you like. Jamie uses pure wheat, but mixes plain with wholegrain flour, which gives an interesting, hearty flavour. I would love to experiment with some heritage grains like Emmer or Einkorn. Just keep in mind that you need some gluten in the mix that binds everything together. You can change the oats for other grain or pseudo-grain flakes or leave them out altogether. Mixing in some seeds or sprinkling them on top might be a good idea too.
A sweet(ish) soda bread is also on my list. Dried prunes and walnuts? Dried apricots and chocolate chips? Raisins and caramelised onions? The possibilities are endless …and if you have more ideas share them with us!
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