I had another long lie-in this Sunday. The only way to recover from the busyness of the working week. When I finally returned to the world of the living, I was refreshed enough to start baking the soda bread I’d been thinking about all week.

Seems like I did more thinking than actual preparation! I had to adapt the recipe because I didn’t actually have much flour in my cupboard, so I halved everything. I also added some maple syrup because I like the slightly sweet taste I anticipated that it would bring.


  • 10g butter (room temperature), plus extra for greasing
  • 225g (8oz) spelt wholemeal flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 200ml buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup


  1. Preheat the oven to 200oC (fan 180oC/400oF/Gas 6). Lightly grease a baking sheet with a little butter.
  2. Put the flour in a large bowl. Add the butter and rub it in with your fingertips. Stir in the bicarbonate of soda and salt. Pour in the buttermilk, 2 tablespoons of hand-warm water and maple syrup. Briefly mix the ingredients. The dough should be very soft and sticky, but still easy to shape. Add another tablespoon of water if needed.
  3. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gather into a neat round, about 20cm (8in) in diameter (it needn’t be too smooth). Place the loaf on the baking sheet and cut a 1cm (1/2 in) deep cross in the top. Sprinkle the top of the loaf with a little white flour.
  4. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until risen and golden brown. Tap the base of the loaf to see if it cooked: it should sound hollow. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. The soda bread is best eaten very fresh, but if wrapped well it will keep for 1 or 2 days.

The final product looked nice. It had that satisfying hollow sound when I tapped the bottom. It was crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. It had a very slight sweet taste which complemented the savoury borlotti bean soup that I ate it with.

Borlotti bean soup with some dollops of pesto.

Very simple to make, it will be something I come back to time and time again. I will make sure I have enough flour next time as I did end up with rather a small loaf. It’s almost finished now because it is quite moorish.

Reference: Adapted from MARY BERRY COOKS THE PERFECT, page 332.

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