Posted on 21st January, 2018

This has been a week of 'invention tests' as I’m still using up cupboard staples and oddments from the garden and fridge/freezer in an attempt to have a slightly frugal January. Comforting old fashioned rice pudding has made an appearance as have mixed bean curry and various soups.


However miserable wet/snowy January days or cold, crisp, sunny January days make me long for a comforting loaf of fresh bread. The smell of baking bread takes me back to childhood days of fetching a fresh loaf from the village shop and breaking the corner off before taking it home. How I thought I’d get away with that ruse I have no idea! However as I’ve said before I avoid modern processed wheat so when I feel the need to make bread I have to improvise.


Spelt flour is a great substitute for wheat flour and I always have some in the cupboard. It’s an ancient grain that has not been manipulated in the same way as modern wheat and if you use wholemeal spelt it gives a nutty flavour to the finished loaf. I also use rye flour but on its own it’s too dense so I mix the two in this particular bread.


I know what you’re thinking ‘I haven’t got time to make bread, it takes hours of kneading, letting it rise, knocking it back etc etc’ Well that’s where soda bread comes in. It’s quick, simple and tasty and you can have a loaf on the table in less than an hour.


One great tip I follow comes from the brilliant Nigel Slater (one of my food heroes). He advocates using a heavy casserole dish with a lid to bake the loaf and I have to say since I read that advice I’ve not looked back. I’ve baked soda bread for years but it can sometimes be a little hard on the outside when cooked directly in the oven but using a casserole dish provides a steamier environment and the finished loaf has a crisp crust.


Another good thing about soda bread is that it requires no kneading, the faster you make the dough the better the bread, if the dough is overworked it loses the light texture. When you’re making traditional wheatflour bread with yeast then kneading it is a must. Follow this link for tips on kneading/no-kneading bread. 


Soda bread doesn’t keep well but let’s be honest it’s not going to keep because you’re going to eat it anyway. It would be a crime not to.


This recipe is a doddle but at some point I’m sure I’ll share other bread recipes with you. If you’ve never made bread before this is an easy way in so I hope you’ll have a go.



Wholemeal spelt flour 350g

Rye flour 200g

Bicarbonate of soda 1 tsp

Salt ½ tsp (I like sea salt-finely ground but any salt will do)

Sugar 1 tsp

Whole linseeds 2 tbsp

Ground linseeds 2 tbsp

(or use a combination of linseed, pumpkin seed, sunflower seed)

Soured (acidised) milk or buttermilk 350ml (add 1 tbsp lemon juice or white vinegar to fresh milk-this is a good subsitute for buttermilk which is often used in soda bread recipes)



Pre-heat the oven to 220c (around gas mark 7/8) and put the good-sized casserole dish and lid in to heat up (mine is 23cm across and this is about the minimum size really for this recipe).

Place all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir together to disperse the bicarbonate of soda then pour in the milk/buttermilk. Quickly combine, bringing the ingredients into a dough. Dust a board with flour and turn the dough out. Now remember there’s no kneading involved, you’re simply trying to mix together and roughly shape into a loaf shape.

Remove the hot casserole dish and dust the inside with a little more flour which helps you to turn out the finished loaf. Pop the dough in and put the lid back on before replacing the casserole dish in the oven for around 25 minutes. Temperature and cooking times are dependent on your particular oven, for example I know mine runs hotter than it should at the moment (methinks I’ll need to change the thermostat sooner rather than later!) but you’ll know the vagaries of your particular appliance and can adjust the cooking time accordingly.


When it’s done, a simple skewer test will show you if it’s cooked through, leave in the dish for a further 5-10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.

 Soda Bread













Resist the urge to cut it immediately, I know the temptation will be strong, because it really needs to cool down a little first as this helps the texture to further develop. Serve thick slices slathered in the spread of your choice, try it with hummus  or to accompany soup, casseroles, salad etc.


I hope you’ll have a go and if it’s a success maybe adapt the recipe by adding different seeds or omitting the seeds altogether. Let me know how you get on.





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