My Dad’s side of our family is Irish, and with that comes a love for quick and easy soda bread. Only one problem, for years I couldn’t make it to save myself. But, I’m proud to say, those days are now far behind me, and now I’m going to share my recipe with you!
One of the best things about quick and easy Irish soda bread is it’s simple to make! The ingredients are basic, the method is straightforward, and the bake time is short. So, it’s the perfect loaf for those days you want fresh and hot bread, without waiting!
I love this bread with soup and stews. It’s the ideal companion to dipping and dunking. It’ll mop up gravy, or soak up soup, and has a really satisfying chew. You’ll never wonder if you’ve remembered to eat, it’s a proper loaf that leaves you feeling pleasantly full.
It’s also incredibly versatile – no plain and boring loaves here! You can vary this recipe to create cheese & chive (amazing with butternut or tomato soup), fruit & spice, or just about any other flavour combination. This loaf is your canvas create a perfect masterpiece.
Irish Soda Bread
The beauty of soda bread is that you won’t have to wait long. Unlike other breads that use yeast, or sourdough with its fermented starter, soda bread is super quick. That’s due to the leavening agent; baking soda/bicarbonate of soda/bread soda – these are all the names it’s known by.
It’s this leavening that together with the moisture from buttermilk, or soured milk, creates carbon dioxide – which makes the loaf rise. It’s that reaction that is key, which is also why you MUST work quickly – speed is of the essence, or you’ll get a house brick, not a house loaf.
Irish Soda Bread Tips:
The key to making the perfect loaf of soda bread is preparation! Make sure you have your oven at 230ºC / 450ºF before you start mixing the dough. This is for two reasons; 1) the oven needs to be HOT before the loaf goes in, and 2) you need that heat to vaporise the liquid to help create the carbon dioxide gas, so the loaf raises.
The leavening agent will start to work very soon after the liquid touches it, so there’s no time to wait for lazy ovens to heat up. This loaf goes from an idea to edible bread in 45mins, it’s that quick!
Another great thing about Irish soda bread is that you can still eat it for a few days after it’s baked – it’s not as good as fresh, but still tastes amazing as toast. A plain loaf, sliced and toasted, is absolutely delicious with butter or cream, and jam. It makes a great alternative to a Devonshire or Cornish cream tea (scone + jam + cream).
If, however, your loaf survives longer, but is getting a bit past its best, worry not! This loaf is also great as a base for bread pudding. Just slice up the loaf into cubes, soak in some egg and milk, and bake at a low temperature until golden around the edges. Lovely! Zero waste, and great taste!
Greek Pita Bread
Greek pita bread is also another great bread that’s super versatile, and it’s why we’re cooking both of these breads in a class. Unlike Irish soda bread, Greek pita does need proofing time. So this recipe will take longer to make, but the flatbreads themselves are well worth the wait!
Greek Pita Bread Tips:
Just like our Irish soda bread, the ingredients for your Greek pita are simple, and you’ll most likely already have them in the pantry/fridge. Just make sure everything is at room temperature. You’ll also need somewhere warm/draught-free, so that the yeast can do it’s thing.
The oven baking for pita bread is much shorter – as it’s ‘griddled’ first in a frying pan or griddle pan. The baking time is to ensure the flatbread are thoroughly cooked. Do ensure you have a paper bag to put them in a paper bag or tea towel from the oven. This little trick helps keep the pita pliable and tender. Omitting this step will give you a much tougher bread, which although fine for dipping, are a bit chewier.
Easy Bread Ingredients
For any type of bread, you’re going to need flour. For both of these recipes you’ll need all-purpose or plain flour. You’ll also need bicarbonate/baking soda or yeast as the leaven. To round out the ingredients, you’re going to need; honey, salt, olive oil, and milk or buttermilk as per the recipe – if you don’t have buttermilk, you can use soured milk. Just use 1tsp of lemon juice or vinegar to ‘sour’ normal milk.
Easy Bread Equipment
The equipment for bread making couldn’t be easier. If you’re going old-school and manually mixing, then you’ll need a large mixing bowl. But, if you have a standmixer, that’ll be just fine, and will save you a lot of elbow work. If you’re really into making your own bread, culturing yoghurt, or even slow-cooking, I’d definitely recommend a home-prover. Having one of these removes the stress and worry about proving times for dough – no more extended math calculations, as the temperature is controlled. On top of this, you’ll need a baking sheet, some parchment paper, just to ensure the dough doesn’t stick! Pssst, don’t forget the paper bags, they’re also great for packing lunch in for later!
On to the recipes! First up, our Irish soda bread, and then the Greek pita bread!
Irish Soda Bread
- Mixing bowl
- Parchment paper
- Baking sheet
- 500 g All-purpose/Plain flour, (1lb/4 cups)
- 5 g Salt (1 UK tsp or ½ US tsp)
- 5 g Bicarbonate of Soda/Baking soda (1 UK tsp or ½ US tsp)
- 350 ml Sour milk or Buttermilk (1½ – 1¾ cups approx.) enough to mix to a moist dough
- Set the oven 230ºC/450ºF.
- Add all the dry ingredients to one bowl, mix thoroughly (you can sieve them if they're old and a little lumpy).
- Make a well in the middle, and slowly add in the milk - mixing carefully, slowly adding more milk as needed - the dough should be moist and sticky, but not a claggy slop.
- Turn onto a floured surface, and quickly shape into a round circle - pat and press, DO NOT 'knead' the dough. The disc should be approx. 1½" or 4cm high when shaped.
- Make a deep X across the disc, so that the gas can escape as the loaf rises.
- Place in the HOT oven for the first 15mins, then turn the oven down to 200˚C/400˚F for the final 20-30mins. The loaf should be golden brown on the edges and sound hollow if tapped on the bottom when done.
- 1cup cheddar cheese (strong, not 'tasty') and 2tbsp dried chives.
- 1cup mixed dried fruit of choice, plus 2tsp preferred spice; cinnamon, mixed spice, etc.
- ½cup dried tomato pieces, 2tsp dried basil, 1tsp dried oregano.
- ½cup figs, diced, and ½cup dates, diced, plus 2tsp ground cinnamon.
And now, onto our tried and true Greek pita bread!
- Mixing bowls
- Wooden spoon
- Baking sheet
- 250 ml water blood temp
- 40 ml honey
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 kg unbleached all-purpose flour
- 50 ml olive oil
- 125 ml milk
- Dissolve honey in the warm water.
- Add yeast and let it dissolve and start to foam.
- In a large bowl, mix together salt and 3 1/2 cups of flour. Add the yeast mixture, oil, and milk.
- Mix with a wooden spoon until the dough begins to come together. Then, turn the dough out onto the counter and knead until smooth, adding the remaining flour as needed to create a soft dough that doesn't stick to your hands.
- Place the dough back in the bowl, and let set, covered, for 1 hour, until doubled in bulk.
- When you are ready to cook the flatbread, preheat your oven to 190˚C/375˚F.
- Knock back the dough and divide it into 8 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball.
- Roll the pieces out into circles ¼” thick using short strokes of the rolling pin.
- Place the rolled out flatbread on a greased baking sheet and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Bake for 7-8 minutes, until cooked through and springy to the touch.
- Remove the cooked flatbread from the baking pan and immediately place them in a paper bag to cool. (The steam from the cooling bread in the bag will keep the flatbread soft and pliable.)
Thanks for checking out this blog post on how to make easy Irish soda bread, and how to make Greek pita bread! I hope you’ve enjoyed the recipes.
Don’t forget to join me, Chef Kit, for the next cooking workshop next Friday, where we’ll be finishing up our Bread series – ever popular Irish soda bread, and Greek pita!
If you do attend any of the cook alongs, please share a photo of your dish on your social media accounts, and use the hashtag: #LarderPantryandGarden.
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