You need fresh bread... and you need it now? Super-simple soda bread – mild, crumbly and almost biscuity in flavour – is just four ingredients and 35 minutes away.
Yeast? No. Kneading? No. Proving? No. All you need is plain flour (white, wholemeal or a mixture of both), bicarbonate of soda, buttermilk and salt, and you're ready to go. If you haven't got buttermilk in the fridge, a 50/50 mix of plain yogurt and full fat or semi-skimmed milk with a squeeze of lemon juice works too. But be warned: if you haven't got bicarbonate of soda (which is not – stress not – the same as baking powder) to hand, nothing else will do.
Soda bread isn't a moist bread (it wouldn't, for example, make a great sandwich), so it's best served with soup or a casserole on the day you make it, or toasted and topped with scrambled eggs, jam or honey the next day. Still got some left over? It freezes very well (tightly wrapped in a plastic bag) and defrosts quickly.
Ingredients (makes one large loaf)
350g plain white/wholemeal flour (or a mixture of both)
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons of salt
285ml buttermilk (or 50/50 plain yogurt and milk plus a squeeze of lemon juice)
1. Preheat the oven to 180°c/160°c fan/gas mark 4/350°F. Dust a baking tray with flour or line with a piece of greaseproof paper.
2. In a large bowl or blender, mix the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda together thoroughly. Tip in the buttermilk (or yogurt/milk mixture) and bring together with lightly floured hands, or pulse-blend in bursts until you have a neat ball of dough (if the mixture looks/feels too wet, just add a bit more flour).
3. Place the ball of dough on the baking tray and cut a deep cross in the centre – this step is really important as it helps the centre of the bread to cook all the way through.
4. Bake the bread for around 30 minutes until golden on top and the base makes a hollow sound when tapped; leave to settle down for around 5 minutes before tearing into chunks/slicing.