Soda bread

This recipe has five notable features.

1. Not just any old soda bread – it’s Peter Skellern’s soda bread – and provides an excuse to dig out that slightly strange, but really rather lovely, song from 1972.

2. It came from Peter to me via the BBC’s excellent Food and Drink programme, and dates from the days when you had to transcribe recipes directly from your TV screen.

3. It’s easy.

4. It’s quick.

5. It’s an excellent vehicle for lashings of butter / jam / honey / marmalade.



8 oz       strong white flour
4 oz       wholewheat flour
1½ tsp   salt

¾ tsp     bicarbonate of soda
1½ tsp   cream of tartar
7½ fl oz  milk


Preheat oven to 200C / 400F / gas 6.

Combine flours and salt.

Stir bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar into milk.

Pour milk into flour and mix to a dough.

Knead for a couple of minutes
(don’t knead for 5-10 minutes as you would for yeast dough).

Roll into a ball, flatten slightly, place on floured baking tray.

Cut a deep cross-shaped slash with a sharp knife, around ½ inch from the base. Admire the geometry of 4 pyramid-like shapes.

Dust with a little flour and bake for 35 minutes.

Best eaten around 20-30 minutes later.



2 thoughts on “Soda bread

    • We can thank David’s birthday visit which prompted me to remember this recipe. Cream of tartar sounds obscure – and I suppose it is in the sense that very few recipes include it – but it’s easily available (as a white powder) in the baking section. I think you’ll find that the more familiar ‘baking powder’ is actually a mix of cream of tartar and bicarbonate of soda – and I think I remember that the former hides the unpleasant taste of the latter – and the latter is actually the raising agent.

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