Better Soda Bread

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Makes

    1

    loaf

Appears in

Good Food For Bad Days

Good Food For Bad Days

By Jack Monroe

Published 2020

  • About

I have written many times about the therapeutic nature of baking bread with my bare hands – the pounding, pummelling and stretching that kneading requires is an excellent workout for nervous energy, both mental and physical, as is the slow rise and the soft yeasty scent that permeates my home as the dough starts to rise. But sometimes there isn’t time, or energy, or there’s a soup on the back burner and I want something a little more instantaneous. Soda bread is a brilliant standby for these occasions, with no kneading nor rising time, it’s as close to instant gratification as breadmaking gets. This half-and-half version is a compromise between the goodness of wholemeal and the deliciousness of white bread; you can adjust the flours to suit your personal tastes or storecupboard, as long as they add up to 400g. Wholemeal is a little thirstier than white flour, as the husks absorb a considerable amount of liquid, so adjust your liquid quantities as required.

Ingredients

  • 400 ml full-fat milk or creamy plant-based milk of choice
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice or any light vinegar
  • 200 g wholemeal flour
  • 200 g self-raising white flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • a pinch of salt oil, for greasing

Method

First, preheat your oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4 and ensure there is a shelf in the middle.

Measure your milk into a jug and add the lemon juice or vinegar. Stand it to one side for a moment to start to curdle.

Weigh the flours into a large mixing bowl and add the bicarbonate of soda and a pinch of salt. Stir through briskly to evenly distribute the bicarb; this helps for an even rise and stops it congregating in a little bitter pile somewhere – which is deeply unpleasant to bite into!

Make a well in the centre – like a shallow wide hole – and pour the curdling milk into it. Mix well to form a thick sticky batter, not a pliable dough – not for this recipe.

Lightly grease and flour a 450 g loaf tin and scrape the batter into it. Jostle it gently from side to side to sort of level the top, then place it into the oven. Bake for 40 minutes, or until risen and a sharp knife inserted into the centre comes away clean. If it doesn’t, return it to the oven for 10 minutes more, covering the top with tin foil to prevent it from browning.

Remove from the oven and cool in the tin for 30 minutes before removing – the residual heat will continue to cook the centre a little more, and if you remove it too early, it could crumble, which would be a delicious shame.