Brown Soda Bread

“This is a great bread for novice cooks to start with as there is no proving or kneading, as the bicarbonate is responsible for the rise when it reacts with the buttermilk. If you don’t have any buttermilk in the house, sour full-fat milk with the juice of half a lemon or one tablespoon of red wine vinegar, which gives the bread a little more tang. The addition of the seeds is a personal preference so feel free to leave them out if you want a more traditional brown soda.”
serves 1x 600g loaf
Cooks in 1 hour
Difficulty quite moderate


olive oil, for greasing
225g white flour, plus extra for dusting*
225g wholemeal flour*
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon fine salt
400ml buttermilk, plus extra if needed
1 tbsp melted butter
1 tbsp maple/golden syrup
handful of porridge oats
1 heaped dessert spoon of sunflower, pumpkin or sesame seeds (optional)
*this can be replaced with 100% sieved spelt white and wholemeal flour


Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Lightly oil a 600g non-stick loaf tin. Sift the flours into a large bowl, then stir in the bicarbonate of soda and salt. Make a well in the centre and add the buttermilk, melted butter, sunflower seeds (if using) and golden syrup. Using a large spoon, mix gently and quickly until you have achieved a nice dropping consistency. Add a little bit more buttermilk if necessary, until the dough binds together without being sloppy.
Put the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and sprinkle over the porridge oats with the pumpkin and sesame seeds, if using. Bake for 40 minutes, until cooked through and the loaf has a slightly cracked, crusty top, checking halfway through the cooking time to make sure that it isn’t browning too much. If it is, reduce the temperature or move the loaf down in the oven.
To check that the loaf is properly cooked, tip out of the tin and tap the base – it should sound hollow. If it doesn’t, return it to the oven for another 5 minutes. Tip out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Use the brown soda bread on the day it is made and cut into slices to serve.

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