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We frequently turn to soda bread when the bread bin is bare. If there is nothing for lunch or to serve with soup for supper, it's a quick and simple answer - and sustaining, too. This classic recipe lends itself to endless tweaking and variation. Slot it into your repertoire and you'll never regret it.

Method

Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir in the salt. Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk, stirring as you go. If necessary, add a tablespoon or two of milk to bring the mixture together; it should form a soft dough, just this side of sticky.

Tip it out on to a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly for about a minute, just long enough to pull it together into a loose ball but no longer – you need to get it into the oven while the bicarb is still doing its stuff. You're not looking for the kind of smooth, elastic dough you'd get with a yeast-based bread.

Put the round of dough on a lightly floured baking sheet and dust generously with flour. Mark a deep cross in it with a sharp, serrated knife, cutting about two-thirds of the way through the loaf. Put it in an oven preheated to 200°C/gas mark 6 and bake for 40-45 minutes, until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath.

Cool on a wire rack if you like a crunchy crust, or wrap in a clean tea towel if you prefer a soft crust. Soda bread is best eaten while still warm, spread with salty butter and/or a dollop of your favourite jam. But if you have some left over the next day, it makes great toast.

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Ingredients

  • 500g plain flour
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • Approx 400ml buttermilk or live yoghurt
  • A little milk, if necessary

This recipe is taken from...

Every Day

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