For anyone who thinks that bread making is too difficult to bother with, this Simple Soda Bread recipe is going to prove you so wrong! It is so unbelievably easy to make. No yeast activating; no kneading; no leavening in the laundry cupboard. It’s a simple case of weigh, mix, bake and enjoy!
When I was learning how to cook at Ballymaloe in Ireland, we used to make soda bread all the time. How could we not? We were in Ireland, the birth place of soda bread! We used to have THE MOST incredible lunches when we were there. All morning, the whole school of 50-plus students would be busy and bustling, creating the most beautiful, fresh dishes, and by lunchtime, everything would come together to create the most enormous feast – and we did this five days a week! It was a nightmare for the waistline, let me tell you that. I don’t think I have ever been so fit, though, because I had to go on the most enormous runs in order to compensate for the most enormous lunches. Anyway, at each lunchtime, there would always be a stack of freshly baked bread that we would use to soak up the salad dressing, layer up with pâté or dunk into your soup. Inevitably, every slice was always laden with great big slabs of the most delicious local butter too! Not such healthy days, I must admit, but delicious all the same.
So my love of soda bread was born and I have been making it ever since. If you are new to bread baking, this is the very first recipe that you should try. If you search around for other soda bread recipes, you will find that most use buttermilk. For the sake of ease, practicality and flavour, I don’t use buttermilk myself – mostly because I have no idea where you can get it from these days. I just use yoghurt instead and it works perfectly. However, as I personally like to steer clear of cow’s dairy, I just use sheep yoghurt instead, which thankfully you can now find in most supermarkets today.
As you will see in the recipe, I have used spelt flour. Spelt is a completely delicious grain that we have been eating for hundreds of generations. It’s the stuff of the Stone Age and also has a very low gluten content. I use it a lot in baking as it acts in a very similar way to normal flour. However, if you can’t find spelt flour, standard plain flour will work in this recipe too. I have also added a tablespoon of fennel seeds to my recipe, but this is a completely optional step, so do leave it out if you like. I just like to add them as it gives it that delicious aniseed edge that works so well when toasted – it’s amazing with honey or layered up with mashed avocado and lemon juice.
SIMPLE SODA BREAD
- 600g (21oz / 5 cups) of spelt flour
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 4 teaspoons of baking powder
- 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds (optional)
- 2 tablespoons of honey
- 450ml of sheep yoghurt
- 260ml of water
- 1 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds (optional)
- 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds (optional)
- Pre-heat the oven to 205°C (gas mark 6 / 400°F).
- Weigh out the dry ingredients in a bowl and combine thoroughly together.
- Mix together the wet ingredients in a separate bowl and then stir them through the dry. You should then start to develop a nice sticky, wet dough.
- Transfer the mixture to a lightly-floured loaf tin, sprinkle the seeds over the top and lightly dust with some of the remaining flour.
- Bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes - the bread is cooked when it is a lovely nutty brown, and when you remove it from the tin it should sound hollow when you tap it.