Brown Soda Bread

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


Appears in

Darina Allen's Simply Delicious Suppers

Darina Allen's Simply Delicious Suppers

By Darina Allen

Published 2001

  • About

Bicarbonate of soda (or bread soda) is the raising agent used in all soda breads. It is an alkali, and even though it is one of the ingredients used in baking powder, it can be used on it’s own to react with an acid, e.g. sour milk, or buttermilk. This produces bubbles of carbonic acid which fill up with air and rise the bread. So the main thing to remember is to use bicarbonate of soda (bread soda) with buttermilk or sour milk, and baking powder – which is a mixture of acid and alkali substances – with ordinary milk.


  • 675 g brown wholemeal flour, preferably stone-ground
  • 450 g white flour
  • 30 g fine oatmeal
  • 2 rounded teaspoons salt
  • 2 rounded teaspoons bread soda, sieved
  • 30 g butter (optional)
  • 1 egg (optional)
  • 700–850 ml sour milk or buttermilk


First preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F/Gas 8.

Mix the dry ingredients well together. Rub in the butter. Make a well in the centre and add the beaten egg, then immediately add most of the sour milk or buttermilk. Working from the centre, mix with your hand and add more milk if necessary. The dough should be soft but not sticky. Turn out on to a floured board and knead lightly, just enough to shape into a round. Flatten slightly to about 5cm. Put on to a baking sheet. Mark with a deep cross and bake in a hot oven 230°C/450°F/Gas 8 for 15–20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6 for around 20–25 minutes, or until the bread is cooked and sounds hollow when tapped.