ESB Guide to… White Soda Bread

Hello everyone!

Welcome back to my blog. I hope you enjoyed my latest post with a recipe for Golden Eggy Bread as part of my Brunch with ESB series. If you fancy a catch-up, you can read it here.

Today I want to share with you a recipe for White Soda Bread – a four ingredient bread that is quick, simple, and takes less than an hour to make from scratch!

The first recipes for soda bread date back to Ireland in the 1830s when bicarbonate of soda was first introduced to Great Britain from the United States. Depending on who you ask, soda bread can be made with different designs and flavourings as it is a versatile base for anything you can think of. I’ve always been intrigued to make it myself having heard that it is a great bread to make in a hurry as it doesn’t require time to rise like traditional bread recipes that use yeast.

I have been put off making soda bread in the past because most recipes call for buttermilk, which is not an easy ingredient to get your hands on in day-to-day life. The acid in the buttermilk however, is the thing the dough needs to react with the bicarbonate of soda to make the bread rise. So I was delighted to find a couple of recipes online – one from BakingQueen74 and the other from Easy Peasy Foodie – that suggested using normal milk with a spoonful of acid such as lemon juice or vinegar to produce a similar effect. And it really worked. Another reason why I’ve been put off making soda bread in the past is that it often uses wholemeal flour which isn’t an ingredient I’m very familiar with. So I was pleased to find recipes using plain flour instead.

To accompany this recipe, here is my ukulele cover of Beginner’s Luck by George and Ira Gershwin which has recently been featured in the Broadway musical, An American in Paris. I thought it was appropriate as it was my first time making soda bread!

Without further ado, here is the recipe…


Serves 4


350g plain flour (also known as all-purpose in the US – don’t be tempted to use strong white bread flour as it makes the bread tough and gives it a less good texture)

1 tsp fine sea salt

200ml milk (I used semi-skimmed but full fat would work just as well)

1 tbsp cider vinegar (other acidic ingredients – lemon juice and white wine vinegar work well too, as I mention above)

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (Don’t use baking powder – with which it’s often confused – as it won’t give you the right result!)


A big mixing bowl

A measuring jug

A wooden spoon

A baking tray lined with greaseproof paper

A wire rack


  1. Start by making your soured milk or replacement buttermilk. Measure out the milk into a jug. Add a tablespoon of cider vinegar and stir to mix. Then leave for 10 -15 minutes. During this time, the milk will thicken slightly and curdle which will produce the reaction you’re looking for when you add it to the flour mix later (see the photo above.)
  2. When 10 – 15 minutes is up, preheat the oven to 180’C. In the large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, and bicarbonate of soda by stirring with a wooden spoon. Then add the milk to the flour mix a bit at a time until you are left with a ball of dough. (ESB Top Tip : I find that this dough is a little like scone mixture so the trick is not to handle it too much but to mix it just enough until the ingredients are combined.)
  3. Press the dough together gently until it is a rough ball and then transfer to the baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. To prepare the bread for the oven, use the handle of a wooden spoon to make a deep cross in the centre of the ball of dough, almost all the way to the bottom of the tray. This ensures the bread cooks evenly in the oven.
  4. Add a sprinkle of extra plain flour to your loaf and bake for 30 minutes until it is a lovely golden brown colour and when you tap it on the bottom, it sounds hollow. Cool on a wire rack and then serve with lashings of butter!

Thank you for popping by my blog today. I hope you enjoyed my recipe for soda bread – I love discovering new recipes to bake! What is a recipe you have recently made for the first time?

See you next time for another tuneful recipe, but in the meantime,

Happy Baking!

English Singing Baker x


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