Soda Bread

Traditional soda bread is made with just bicarb and buttermilk. However, it can be hard to find buttermilk, so I’ve adapted the recipe to use baking powder and semi-skimmed milk.

Chemistry Lesson: Bicarbonate of soda is activated by lactic acid in the buttermilk, thus producing carbon dioxide which makes the bread rise. Baking powder already contains bicarb, but also either tartaric acid (cream of tartar) or Disodium Diphosphate, therefore, no further acid is needed.

  • 450g white flour (or 350g white and 100g wholemeal)
  • 1 level teaspoon salt
  • 1 rounded teaspoon baking powder
  • 325ml/g milk (skimmed or semi-skimmed is fine)
  • Pre-heat oven to 230°C.
  • Sieve the dry ingredients into a roomy bowl and mix together with your hands.
  • Pour in most of the milk. Mix everything together with a spatula or wooden spoon until it forms a soft, but not sticky, dough. if it’s a little dry, add a dash of the reserved milk. If it’s a bit sticky, add a small handful of flour (either type will do).
  • Turn out onto a well-floured work surface and give it a brief knead.
  • Shape into a ball. Pat the dough into a patty about 2.5cm deep and cut a cross in the top with a sharp knife (to let the fairies out, apparently). The cuts should be about 1cm deep and continue down the sides.
  • Bake near the bottom of the oven for 15 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 200°C. Bake for 30 minutes or until cooked.
  • To test for doneness, tap the bottom of the bread with your knuckles – if properly cooked, it will sound hollow. If you hear a dull thud, pop the loaf back in the oven, upside down, for 5 to 10 minutes.