Easy James Martin Soda Bread Recipe

Easy James Martin Soda Bread Recipe
Yields: 1 Serving Difficulty: Easy Prep Time: 15 Mins Cook Time: 35 Mins Total Time: 50 Mins

James Martin Soda Bread is a delicious and easy bread that you can make at home without any yeast. It’s a traditional Irish bread that uses baking soda and buttermilk as leavening agents, resulting in soft, moist, and slightly tangy bread. It’s perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and goes well with butter, jam, cheese, or soup. This recipe makes one large loaf of soda bread and can be prepared in less than an hour.

In this article, I will show you how to make James Martin Soda Bread step by step, with tips and tricks along the way.

What is James Martin Soda Bread Recipe?

James Martin Soda Bread is a variation of the classic Irish soda bread, named after the famous British chef and TV presenter James Martin. He shared his recipe for soda bread on his show Saturday Kitchen, and it became very popular among his fans and viewers.

James Martin Soda Bread is different from traditional Irish soda bread in a few ways. First, it uses wholemeal flour instead of plain flour, which gives it a more nutty and wholesome flavor and texture. Second, it adds some oats and sunflower seeds to the dough, which adds some crunch and extra nutrition. Third, it uses honey instead of sugar, which adds a subtle sweetness and a golden crust.

James Martin Soda Bread

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Why You’ll Love This Recipe

There are many reasons to love this recipe for James Martin Soda Bread.

Here are some of them:

  • Ease of Preparation: No need for yeast, kneading, or prolonged rising times. This recipe is straightforward and manageable, even for beginners.
  • Versatility: James Martin Soda Bread is a fantastic base for a variety of meals and snacks, from a hearty breakfast toast to a satisfying side for soups and salads.
  • Customizable: Feel free to tweak the recipe by adding your favorite seeds, nuts, dried fruits, or spices, making it adaptable to different tastes and occasions.
  • Wholesome Goodness: The use of wholemeal flour, oats, and seeds ensures that each slice is packed with fiber and nutrients, making it a healthful choice.
  • Deliciously Satisfying: The unique combination of ingredients yields bread that is soft and moist inside with a crusty exterior, offering a perfect balance of textures and flavors.

Ingredients Needed to Make James Martin Soda Bread

To make James Martin Soda Bread, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 500 g of wholemeal flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 50 g of porridge oats, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 50 g of sunflower seeds, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 25 g of butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 400 ml of buttermilk, plus extra for brushing

Instructions to Make James Martin Soda Bread

Follow these instructions to make James Martin Soda Bread:

Step 1: Preheat the oven and prepare the baking sheet

  • Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan) or gas mark 6.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray it with cooking spray.

Step 2: Mix the dry ingredients

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the wholemeal flour, baking soda, and salt.
  • Stir in the oats and sunflower seeds.

Step 3: Add the wet ingredients

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter and honey.
  • Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk and the butter-honey mixture.
  • Using a wooden spoon, stir the ingredients until a sticky dough forms. You may need to add a little more buttermilk or flour to adjust the consistency.

Step 4: Shape the dough and score the top

  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it gently for a few seconds, just to bring it together.
  • Shape the dough into a round loaf, about 20 cm in diameter and 5 cm in height.
  • Place the loaf on the prepared baking sheet and use a sharp knife to score a deep cross on the top, about 1 cm deep.

Step 5: Bake the bread

  • Brush the top of the loaf with some extra buttermilk and sprinkle some more oats and sunflower seeds over it.
  • Bake the bread in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
  • Transfer the bread to a wire rack and let it cool slightly before slicing and serving.

James Martin Soda Bread

What Do I Serve With James Martin Soda Bread?

James Martin Soda Bread is a versatile bread that can be served with a variety of dishes and toppings.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Breakfast Delights: Pair it with butter, jam, or a spread of your choice. It’s also excellent for creating savory sandwiches with bacon, eggs, or avocado.
  • Lunch and Soup Companion: Serve alongside your favorite soup or salad for a fulfilling lunch. It pairs well with tomato, chicken, or lentil soups, as well as green, pasta, or chicken salads.
  • Cheese Boards: Create a varied cheese platter, complementing the bread with cheddar, brie, or blue cheese for a gourmet snack or appetizer.
  • Dinner Side: Complement any main dish, like roast chicken or beef stew, adding a hearty element to the meal.
  • Creative Casseroles: Use it as a base or topping for casseroles, enhancing the dish with its texture and flavor.

Pro Tips to Make Perfect James Martin Soda Bread

To make perfect James Martin Soda Bread, follow these pro tips:

  • Fresh Ingredients: Ensure your baking soda is fresh for optimal rise. A simple test is to mix it with hot water; if it bubbles, it’s active.
  • Minimal Handling: Avoid overmixing the dough to keep it light and tender. Mix just until the ingredients are combined.
  • Scoring: A deep cross on the loaf’s surface is not just traditional; it helps the bread bake evenly and expand properly.
  • Doneness Check: Tap the bottom of the loaf; a hollow sound indicates it’s baked through. Optionally, use a skewer to test the center for crumbs.
  • Variations Welcome Experiment with adding different seeds, nuts, fruits, or spices to customize the flavor and texture to your liking.

Soda Bread Recipe James Martin

Variations of James Martin Soda Bread

Experimenting with James Martin Soda Bread can lead to delightful variations, making it adaptable to different tastes and dietary needs.

Here are some creative twists:

  • Seed and Nut Soda Bread: Enhance the texture and nutritional profile by incorporating a mix of pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, walnuts, or almonds.
  • Fruit and Spice Soda Bread: For a sweeter loaf, add dried fruits such as raisins, cranberries, or apricots. Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or cardamom can add warmth and aroma.
  • Cheese and Herb Soda Bread: Incorporate grated cheeses such as cheddar or parmesan for a savory twist, along with fresh herbs like parsley or rosemary for added flavor.
  • Gluten-Free Soda Bread: Substitute wholemeal flour with a gluten-free blend and add xanthan gum to ensure the bread maintains its structure and rise.
  • Vegan Soda Bread: Replace buttermilk with a plant-based milk and acid (lemon juice or vinegar) mixture to mimic the traditional tanginess and use maple syrup or agave nectar instead of honey for sweetness.

How do I Store James Martin Soda Bread Leftovers?

Proper storage is key to maintaining the freshness and texture of James Martin Soda Bread.

Follow these steps:

Short-Term Storage

  • Cool Completely: Allow the bread to cool to room temperature on a wire rack before storing it to prevent moisture buildup.
  • Wrap Tightly: Use plastic wrap, aluminum foil, or a resealable plastic bag to wrap the bread tightly, protecting it from air and moisture.
  • Room Temperature: Store the wrapped bread at room temperature if consumed within 2-3 days.

Long-Term Storage

  • Freeze for Longevity: For longer storage, freeze the bread. Slice it before freezing for easier use.
  • Airtight Container: Place slices in an airtight container or wrap them individually with plastic wrap and then foil. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • Thaw Properly: Thaw slices at room temperature or in the refrigerator overnight when ready to eat.

How do I Reheat James Martin Soda Bread Leftovers?

Reheating soda bread can restore its warmth and slightly crisp texture.

Here’s how:

  • Oven Method: Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F). Wrap the bread in aluminum foil and heat for about 10-15 minutes or until warm throughout. This method helps retain moisture.
  • Toaster or Toaster Oven: For individual slices, a toaster or toaster oven provides a quick and convenient option. Toast on a medium setting until warm and slightly crispy.
  • Microwave (with Caution): If you’re in a hurry, wrap a slice in a damp paper towel and microwave on high for 10-15 seconds. Be mindful that microwaving can affect the texture, making it chewier.

Nutritional Value (Per Serving)

  • Calories: Approximately 200-250 kcal
  • Protein: 6-8g
  • Carbohydrates: 40-45g
  • Fat: 3-5g (varies with added seeds and nuts)
  • Fiber: 4-6g
  • Sugar: 2-4g (naturally occurring from honey and buttermilk)


Can I Use Regular Milk Instead of Buttermilk in James Martin Soda Bread?

Yes, you can use regular milk as a substitute for buttermilk by adding an acid to it, such as lemon juice or white vinegar. Mix about 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar with 1 cup of milk and let it stand for 5-10 minutes until it curdles slightly. This mixture can then be used as a direct replacement for buttermilk in the recipe.

What If I Don’t Have Wholemeal Flour?

If you don’t have wholemeal flour, you can still make James Martin Soda Bread using all-purpose flour. However, the texture and flavor of the bread will be lighter and less nutty. For a closer approximation to the original recipe, you can mix all-purpose flour with a bit of wheat bran or wheat germ.

How Do I Know When My Soda Bread Is Fully Baked?

Your soda bread is fully baked when it has a golden brown crust, and when tapped on the bottom, it sounds hollow. Additionally, inserting a skewer or toothpick into the center of the bread should come out clean. If unsure, an internal temperature reading of around 190°F (88°C) indicates that the bread is done.

Can I Add Other Ingredients to the Soda Bread Dough?

Absolutely! James Martin Soda Bread is very adaptable. Feel free to add ingredients such as dried fruits (raisins, cranberries), nuts (walnuts, pecans), or even different seeds (flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds) to the dough before baking. This allows you to customize the flavor and texture according to your preferences.

Final Words

James Martin Soda Bread is a simple yet rewarding recipe that blends the wholesome goodness of wholemeal flour, oats, and sunflower seeds with the subtle sweetness of honey. It’s an easy-to-make, versatile bread that perfectly complements any meal, offering a delightful texture and flavor. Whether enjoyed fresh out of the oven or as a comforting snack the next day, this bread is a testament to the joy of baking and the warmth it brings to the table.

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