March is the month we celebrate St Patrick’s day and on the 17th, along with gold chocolate coins hidden in the garden by the Leprechaun, I usually make a hearty Guiness Beef pie. This year I was in the mood to try something different, but simply ran out of time. I have wanted to make soda bread for a while as it is one of the few breads that can be made in a short amount of time, as it has no yeast and does not need time to rise. I tried out a recipe by baking Guru, Paul Hollywood and although we found it to be rather 'doughy', it was tasty, especially of course when eaten straight out the oven, with just a sliver of butter.

It is important to work quickly with the dough mixture as once the buttermilk is added it begins to react with the bicarbonate of soda. The bread can be frozen but doesn’t really keep very well, so unless you plan to toast it, eat it all up on the day!

250g plain white flour
250g wholemeal flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
400ml buttermilk


  1. Heat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  3. Place both the flours, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl and mix well.
  4. Make a well in the centre of your mixture and pour in half the buttermilk.
  5. Using either a round-bladed knife, or your fingers, draw the flour into the buttermilk.
  6. Continue to add the buttermilk until all the flour has been absorbed and you have a sticky dough.
  7. Place your dough on a lightly floured surface and shape it into a ball. Then flatten it slightly with the palm of your hand.
  8. Put the dough on the baking tray. Using a sharp knife, cut deeply through the loaf (just not to the base), marking it into quarters.
  9. Dust the top with flour and place in the oven to bake for around 25 minutes or until the loaf is golden brown. (You can tap on the base and if it sounds hollow, it is done.)
  10. Once out, leave it to cool on a wire rack for a few minutes and then enjoy!
  11. Serve with a good Irish stew, or fresh with butter and jam.

Makes one small loaf.