Soda bread is a really quick and easy loaf to make, my recipe for easy white soda bread uses plain flour for a simple loaf of bread with great results!
If you are looking for a simple bread recipe you don’t need strong bread flour and yeast for then soda bread is ideal.
How soda bread rises
Soda bread takes its name from the bicarbonate of soda (or baking soda) used in the recipe. The bicarb reacts with buttermilk or soured milk (find out how to make this quick and easily at home below) to produce tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide which make the loaf rise and make the bread lighter.
As there is no yeast involved, the process of making soda bread is much faster, and soda bread is classed as a quick bread.
You only need a few store cupboard basics to make this easy white soda bread:
- plain flour (white) – you might think you always need strong bread flour to make bread but not at all with soda bread, plain flour (all purpose flour) or self-raising both work well
- bicarbonate of soda – or baking soda – this is what makes your soda bread rise and gives it a light texture.
- milk – although it is traditionally made with buttermilk, this can be hard to get hold of. Luckily soda bread can also be made by making your own soured milk at home by stirring white wine vinegar (or lemon juice etc) into normal milk and leaving it to stand for about ten to fifteen minutes. The acid in the vinegar (or lemon) makes the milk more acidic and it starts to curdle or form curds, and thicken. I use milk in my recipe as I often can’t get buttermilk from the shops. You can switch the milk and white wine vinegar for buttermilk (1 pot, usually 284 ml) if you can obtain it.
- white wine vinegar – use a tablespoon of vinegar to make your milk sour, after leaving it to stand for 10-15 minutes it will have thickened.
- salt – if you leave out salt when baking bread it will taste very bland, so always include it for a great-tasting soda bread.
- egg – as an egg wash to brush over the dough before baking, this gives it a good colour
Step by step
Pour a tablespoon of white wine vinegar into the milk in a jug and leave to thicken for 10-15 minutes. Once it has thickened you can continue with the next step.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Place the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a large bowl.
Pour in the milk.
Stir together the ingredients and it will start to come together as a dough.
Once combined, transfer the dough to a floured surface, bring the dough together into a ball roughly. Don’t knead, you don’t need to knead soda bread, and kneading can make it dense and heavy.
Make two deep slashes in the top of the dough.
Transfer the dough to a baking tray and brush on the egg wash.
Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown and the base sounds hollow when tapped.
Remove from the oven, leave to cool for a few minutes then devour!
Soda bread makes a rustic style loaf with a denser texture than a sandwich loaf, so it goes well with casseroles, chilli, soups, and that kind of thing in the colder months, and just as well with salads, cheese and cold meat in the warmer months.
It is best served with lashings of butter!
Add in herbs (dried work well as they don’t add moisture, drier fresh herbs like rosemary, sage, thyme also go well), roasted peppers, chopped tomatoes, cheese, chunks of ham.
Try using some seeded flour for part of the flour content to add texture.
To make it vegan, use your preferred plant milk instead of milk and brush with more plant milk to replace the egg wash.
Soda bread is best used within 2-3 days of baking. Store it at room temperature, ideally wrapped in baking paper or similar.
You can freeze soda bread, either whole or part of a loaf in a chunk or slices. Freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost it at room temperature then reheat or toast.
More soda bread recipes
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or for a sweet spin on soda bread:
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Easy White Soda Bread
- 350 g plain flour
- 250 ml milk
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 0.5 tsp salt
- 1 egg for egg wash
- Place the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a large bowl.Pour in the milk.
- Stir together the ingredients and it will start to come together as a dough.
- Once combined, transfer the dough to a floured surface, bring the dough together into a ball roughly. Don’t knead, you don’t need to knead soda bread, and kneading can make it dense and heavy. Make two deep slashes in the top of the dough.
- Transfer the dough to a baking tray and brush on the egg wash.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown and the base sounds hollow when tapped.Remove from the oven, leave to cool for a few minutes then devour!