Everything you knead to know about baking soda bread

Author: Joe Dunster
Date: March 17, 2023
Category: Recipes

Irish soda bread

The quick and easy Irish soda bread is worth a regular place at your table, especially on St Patrick’s Day.

To celebrate the humble loaf, head chef and bread-baking wizard Joe Dunster shares his top tips:

1. Use a mix of whole wheat and white flours. Whole wheat flour is more dense than white flour, so a mix of both means they even each other out. The result is a light and fluffy loaf.

2. Be braver with the flavour! The thing I love most about baking soda bread is you can pretty much throw in whatever you want. My favourite flavour combos are cranberry and brie, Waste Knot spring onion and Cheddar, feta and olive or pea and stilton. It’s important to make sure these are mixed evenly through the flour, so they are evenly distributed through the dough.

3. Buttermilk is best. I’ve used yoghurt before, but always revert to buttermilk. It reacts with the bicarbonate of soda as there’s no yeast. The flavour is a gamechanger!

4. Go easy on the bicarbonate of soda! 7.5g is the perfect amount. Too much and it will create a metallic taste to the loaf and no one wants that!

5. Don’t overdevelop the gluten. There’s no ‘knead’ to knead the dough too much as it will toughen the loaf. A quick knock, knock and it’s ready for the oven!

6. Get probing! You’d never think to probe a loaf of bread but it’s important. I always aim for an internal temperature of 90’C.

Fancy giving it a go? Try Joe’s Cheddar and spring onion soda bread recipe here.

It takes longer to weigh out the ingredients than it does to make the dough, so get those hands in the flour!