Soda bread is the most instant bread you can make and it is delicious as long as you eat it as fresh as possible, ideally the same day. It is made without yeast, relying instead on the chemical reaction of bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar with buttermilk to make the dough rise. To make 1 large loaf, you will need 500g (1lb) plain white or wholemeal flour or a mixture of the two, 2teaspoonsbicarbonate of soda, 2teaspoonscream of tartar, 1teaspoonsalt, 50g (2oz) butter, margarine or lard and about 300ml (½pint) buttermilk.
Sift the dry ingredients together twice. Rub in the fat. Gradually add the buttermilk, mixing lightly to a soft but manageable dough. Without kneading shape into an 18cm (lin) round. Place on a greased and floured baking sheet.
Use the floured handle of a wooden spoon to press a deep cross on top. Immediately bake at 220° C, 425°F, Gas Mark 7 for about 30 minutes until the loaf sounds hollow when tested. Cool on a wire rack.