Soda bread is a traditional Irish bread that is quick and easy to make. It does not require yeast, kneading, or rising, and it has a delicious crusty exterior and a soft crumb. Soda bread is perfect for breakfast, brunch, or as a side dish for soups and stews.
In this article, I will show you how to make soda bread using the recipe from Mary Berry, one of the most famous and respected British bakers. Mary Berry is known for her simple and foolproof recipes that always deliver great results. Her soda bread recipe is no exception. It uses only a few basic ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry, and it takes less than an hour from start to finish.
What is Mary Berry Soda Bread?
Mary Berry soda bread is a type of bread that is made without yeast, using bicarbonate of soda and buttermilk as the leavening agents. It is a traditional Irish bread that is easy to make and has a crusty exterior and a soft crumb. Mary Berry is a famous British baker who has a simple and foolproof recipe for soda bread that uses only a few basic ingredients.
Why You Love this Recipe
There’s something immensely satisfying about baking bread at home, and this Mary Berry Soda Bread recipe epitomizes the joy of baking with its simplicity and comforting results.
Here’s why you’ll fall in love with it:
- Effortlessly Easy: With no yeast, kneading, or proofing required, this recipe is as straightforward as it gets. It’s perfect for those who want homemade bread without the fuss.
- Quick Comfort: In under an hour, you’ll have a warm, crusty loaf that’s perfect for slathering with butter, and jam, or using to mop up hearty stews.
- Versatility at its Best: Whether it’s a rustic addition to your dinner table or the star of your breakfast, this soda bread fits beautifully into any meal.
- Foolproof: Thanks to Mary Berry’s expert guidance, this recipe is hard to mess up. Follow the steps, and you’re guaranteed great results every time.
- Homely and Hearty: There’s a nostalgic quality to soda bread that harks back to simpler times. Its dense crumb and rich flavor are the epitome of home cooking.
- Adaptable: Feel free to add your own twist with herbs, seeds, or dried fruits, making this recipe a versatile base for your culinary creativity.
With every bite of this rustic, hearty bread, you’ll understand why it’s not just a recipe—it’s a warm, welcoming experience on a plate.
What Ingredients You Need to Make Mary Berry Soda Bread
To make Mary Berry soda bread, you will need the following ingredients:
- Oil, for greasing
- 450g (1lb) strong white flour
- 1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 level tsp salt
- 300ml (½ pint) buttermilk or 150ml (¼ pint) milk and 150ml (¼ pint) natural yoghurt, mixed
You will also need the following equipment:
- A large mixing bowl
- A measuring spoon
- A measuring jug
- A wooden spoon
- A sharp knife
- A baking tray
- A wire rack
Instructions to Make Mary Berry Soda Bread
To make Mary Berry soda bread, follow these easy steps:
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6. Lightly grease a baking tray with oil.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.
- In a measuring jug, whisk together the buttermilk (or milk and yogurt mixture) and enough tepid water – about 6 tablespoons – to form a very soft dough. Pour the liquid into the well and mix with a wooden spoon until a sticky dough forms.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and shape it into a neat round about 18cm (7in) in diameter. Do not overwork the dough or it will become tough. Place the dough on the prepared baking tray and make a shallow cross on the top with a sharp knife. This will help the bread to rise and cook evenly.
- Bake the bread in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, then turn it upside-down and continue baking for 10–15 minutes or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. This will ensure a crisp crust on both sides.
- Cool the bread on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Soda bread is best eaten on the day of making, but it can also be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
What Do I Serve With Mary Berry Soda Bread?
Soda bread is a versatile bread that can be enjoyed at any time of the day, with any meal or snack.
Here are some ideas of what you can serve with Mary Berry soda bread:
- For breakfast or brunch, you can slice it and serve it with butter, jam, honey, or Nutella. You can also toast it and top it with eggs, bacon, cheese, or avocado. You can also make French toast with it by dipping it in a mixture of eggs, milk, and cinnamon, and frying it in a pan. Sprinkle some powdered sugar or maple syrup on top for a sweet treat.
- For lunch or dinner, you can serve it as a side dish for soups, stews, salads, or casseroles. You can also make a sandwich with it by filling it with cheese, ham, chicken, tuna, or vegetables. You can also make a pizza with it by spreading some tomato sauce and cheese on top and baking it in the oven. Add some pepperoni, mushrooms, olives, or pineapple for extra flavor.
- For dessert or snack, you can serve it with some fresh or dried fruits, nuts, chocolate, or whipped cream. You can also make a bread pudding with it by cutting it into cubes and soaking it in a mixture of milk, eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Bake it in the oven until golden and serve it with some custard or ice cream.
Pro Tips to Make Perfect Mary Berry Soda Bread
Here are some pro tips that will help you make perfect Mary Berry soda bread every time:
- Use strong white flour for a sturdy and chewy texture. You can also replace 50g (2oz) of the flour with the same quantity of porridge oats for more texture and flavor.
- Use fresh bicarbonate of soda for optimal leavening. Bicarbonate of soda loses its potency over time, so check the expiry date before using it. You can also test its freshness by adding a few drops of vinegar to a small amount of bicarbonate of soda. If it fizzes, it is still good to use.
- Use buttermilk for a tangy and moist crumb. Buttermilk is a cultured milk product that reacts with bicarbonate of soda to create bubbles of carbon dioxide that make the bread rise. If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make your own by adding 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to 300ml (½ pint) of milk and letting it stand for 10 minutes until it curdles. You can also use a mixture of milk and natural yogurt, as suggested by Mary Berry.
- Do not overmix or knead the dough. Soda bread dough is very sticky and wet, so it is best to mix it with a wooden spoon until it comes together. Kneading the dough will develop the gluten in the flour, which will make the bread tough and dense. Just shape the dough into a round and place it on the baking tray.
- Make a cross on the top of the dough. This will help the bread to expand and cook evenly, as well as create a nice pattern on the crust. You can also sprinkle some flour or oats on top of the dough for extra crunch and decoration.
- Turn the bread upside-down halfway through baking. This will ensure a crisp crust on both sides of the bread, as well as prevent the bottom from burning.
How do I store Mary Berry Soda Bread Leftovers?
Soda bread, with its tender crumb and crusty exterior, is undeniably best enjoyed fresh. However, if you find yourself with leftovers, here’s how to keep them delicious for later:
- Cool Down: Allow the bread to cool completely to room temperature before storing it to prevent moisture buildup, which can lead to sogginess or mold.
- Airtight Storage: Wrap the bread tightly in cling film or place it in an airtight container. This helps to maintain its texture and flavor.
- Room Temperature: Keep the wrapped bread at room temperature if consumed within the next 48 hours.
- Freeze for Longevity: For longer storage, freeze the soda bread. Wrap it securely in cling film and then in foil to protect against freezer burn. It will keep for up to 3 months in the freezer.
Remember, soda bread is a humble fare, meant to be consumed without much delay, so while these methods will help, they can’t fully preserve the just-baked quality.
How do I reheat Mary Berry Soda Bread Leftovers?
To recapture the magic of freshly baked soda bread, proper reheating is key. Here’s how to bring back the warmth and crispness:
- Preheat: Warm your oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4.
- Moisture Trick: Lightly sprinkle the bread with water to help freshen up the crust.
- Reheat: Place the bread directly on the oven rack for about 10-15 minutes until it’s heated through and the crust crisps up.
- Dampen: Wrap the bread in a damp paper towel. This adds moisture and prevents the bread from drying out.
- Heat: Microwave on a medium setting for 10-20 seconds. If it’s not warm enough, heat it in 10-second bursts until you’re satisfied.
While the microwave method is quicker, the oven method more closely restores the bread’s original texture. Whichever way you choose, reheating soda bread makes it nearly as delightful as it was when it first came out of the oven.
What Kind of Flour is Best for Soda Bread?
The choice of flour is critical in soda bread. The type of flour not only affects the bread’s flavor and texture but also how well it reacts with the leavening agent. Traditionally, soda bread calls for a specific type of flour:
- Wholemeal Wheat Flour: For a classic, hearty Irish soda bread, wholemeal wheat flour (or whole wheat flour) is the standard. It gives the bread a full-bodied flavor and a dense, nutritious crumb.
- White Flour Variations: If you prefer a lighter texture, strong white flour, known in some places as bread flour, is a good choice. It has a higher protein content, which can lend a chewier texture to the bread.
- A Blend for Balance: Many bakers find that a combination of white and wholemeal flours offers the perfect balance of heartiness and lightness. Mary Berry’s recipe, for instance, opts for strong white flour to give the bread a sturdy structure and a chewy crust.
Regardless of the type of flour you choose, make sure it’s fresh and hasn’t been sitting on your shelf past its prime, as this can affect the taste and rise of your bread.
What Type of Soda is Best for Soda Bread?
The “soda” in soda bread is bicarbonate of soda, also known as baking soda. It’s a powerful leavening agent that reacts with the acidic components in the dough (like buttermilk) to create carbon dioxide bubbles, which make the bread rise.
Here’s what to look for in a baking soda for your soda bread:
- Freshness: Baking soda should be fresh for optimal leavening power. Test its potency before baking by mixing a small amount with vinegar; if it bubbles vigorously, it’s good to use.
- Single-Acting: For soda bread, single-acting baking soda is ideal. It reacts when it becomes wet, which is why soda bread must be baked immediately after mixing.
- Aluminum-Free: Some bakers prefer aluminum-free baking soda for a cleaner taste, although it’s not strictly necessary for the chemical leavening process.
Nutrition value (per serving):
- Calories: 124
- Total fat: 2.1g
- Saturated fat: 0.5g
- Cholesterol: 7.7mg
- Sodium: 170mg
- Potassium: 113mg
- Total carbohydrate: 24g
- Dietary fiber: 1.1g
- Sugars: 0g
- Protein: 2.8g
- Vitamin A: 1.7%
- Vitamin C: 0.6%
- Calcium: 2.7%
- Iron: 6.4%
Can I make this bread gluten-free?
You can use a gluten-free flour blend instead of plain flour, but the texture may be slightly different.
Can I use a different type of milk?
You can use any type of milk, but buttermilk will give you the best results. If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make your own by adding 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to 300ml (½ pint) of milk and letting it stand for 10 minutes until it curdles. You can also use a mixture of milk and natural yogurt, as suggested by Mary Berry.
Can I freeze this bread?
Yes, you can freeze this bread for up to 3 months. To freeze, wrap the bread tightly in plastic wrap and then in foil. Label and date the bread and place it in the freezer. To defrost, simply leave the bread at room temperature for a few hours or microwave it for a few seconds.
Can I add other ingredients to the dough?
Yes, you can customize your soda bread by adding different ingredients to the dough, such as dried fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, or cheese. Just make sure to adjust the amount of liquid accordingly, as some ingredients may absorb more or less moisture than others
Soda bread is a classic Irish bread that is quick and easy to make. It has a crusty exterior and a soft crumb, and it is perfect for breakfast, brunch, or as a side dish for soups and stews.
In this article, I showed you how to make soda bread using the recipe from Mary Berry, one of the most famous and respected British bakers. Her soda bread recipe is simple and foolproof, and it uses only a few basic ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry. I also gave you some tips and tricks for making the best soda bread every time, as well as some reasons why you should try it. I hope you enjoyed this article and learned something new. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. And if you liked this article, please share it with your friends and family.
Thank you for reading and happy baking!