Airy Fairy Easy Peasy Soda Bread


Think you can’t make bread? Or that you need a fancy pants bread maker to do so? RUBBISH. You have a natural, free bread maker in your palms and your knuckles – and this easy recipe with no proving or rising time is a great place to start.

A lot of soda bread recipes use whole meal flour, salt, and yoghurt – but true to my usual style, I’ve pared it back to the basics – but basic doesn’t mean disappointing. Gorgeous warm with red fruit jam, or butter, or dunked into hearty soups and stews. It goes without saying that this is one of my favourite and most tried-and-tested recipes, doesn’t it?

Ingredients, Serves 4:

200g self raising flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
200ml milk (soya or almond for vegans, cows milk if you’re not)
Juice of half a lemon


Squeeze the juice of half a lemon, or 2 teaspoons bottled lemon juice, into the milk. Stand to one side to allow it to sour.

Meanwhile, weigh the flour and add the bicarbonate of soda, and mix through.

Make a well in the centre of the flour mix, and pour most of the milk-and-lemon in. Mix well with a wooden spoon to form a sticky dough. Use your judgement, if it looks dry, add the remaining liquid.

Tip onto a floured work surface and pat into a round shape, kneading ever so lightly. The trick to amazingly light soda bread is not to fiddle with it too much.

Pop it into a loaf tin, score it across the top in three places, and place in a 180C oven for 40 minutes. It should sound hollow on the bottom when tapped, and feel ridiculously light.

Break into chunks and serve warm with butter, or allow to cool completely and wrap in clingfilm to keep fresh.

Jack Monroe. Follow me on Twitter @MsJackMonroe


  1. sounds lovely and homely. a cosy recipe i would call it lol. images of winter, log burners and rustling wind come to mind….yum

  2. I’ve just made a half quantity at a cost of 15.5p I do think it needs a little pinch of salt. It took about 20 mins to cook, under half an hour from start to finish and I wonder if the cooking time for the full amount could be shortened by making two smaller loaves instead of one bigger one. I’m thinking of the cost of heating and using the oven. Or make and bake when the oven is on for something else.
    Also, it’s a great way to use up milk that has gone ‘off’. You don’t need the lemon juice in that case.
    So delicious!

  3. sounds yummy. I have made soda bread before, but not using the frugalised ingredients. Have some carrot, lentil and coriander soup simmering at the moment and would have made this to go with it, but popped into our local (smallish) Sainsbury last night at about 7:45 and there was quite a bit of really reduced bread – hooray, I never seem to hit that spot. So currently have a small sliced Hovis (19p), a large sliced granary (50p) and a fancy olive and rye (75p) to use up.
    I will def make it at some point soon tho

  4. Will you insert the useful comments in your cookbook? Like the ‘sour milk’ alternative?

    I would love to buy a copy of the book!

  5. Thanks for the tip about not handling it too much: my soda bread has always turned out a bit brick-like, but I guess that’s because I’ve been over-working it. Will give this a go ASAP!

  6. Bread doesn’t have to be hard to make and it doesn’t have to be expensive. 500 gr strong white flour, 10 gr easy yeast, 10 gr salt, 320 gr water – yes I weigh the water, favourite bread book, Dough, recommends that.
    Mix, knead, prove, knock back, prove and bake – gas mark 6 about 40 min, but check at 30 because ovens are different. I haven’t worked the price out but it’s less than the cost of a good loaf, not quite as cheap as a value loaf – but a million times better. If you find wholemeal flour cheap enough then do a mix 60% white to 40% wholemeal. Get the flavour and goodness without it getting too heavy.
    The making of the bread adds something to it as well, you feel good about it.
    If you’ve got a mixer and a kneading hook don’t be ashamed to use it, not everyone can do the whole thing by hand.
    Best of luck with your book, I’ll buy it.

    • Why weigh the water when 1 ml of water is literally defined as 1 g of water?
      Hope you’re having a laugh.

  7. Another winner Jack, thanks for sharing the recipe. Had mine toasted with a little honey. Mmmmmm πŸ™‚

  8. I made this and truthfully I wasn’t that keen on the soured taste but my husband loves it! I was going to complain it didn’t rise all that well but then I discovered my bicarb of soda was about 4 years old – oops. That might explains why my scones are usually so flat!! Think I might try and modify this into something slightly sweet and cinnamony for breakfast next time, thanks for your inspirational recipes and good luck with the book, looking forward to reading it πŸ™‚

  9. I can’t believe how few ingredients you need for this and how easy it is to make! I’ve loved soda bread for years and now I can easily make my own. Mine came out darker than yours but still tastes lovely. Was delicious with some honey or lemon curd, and I’ll finish it off tonight with some soup. Thank you Jack for the great (and easy) recipe!

    I only found your blog last week when it was mentioned on Superscrimpers, but I really like the look of your recipes and can’t wait to try more of them out! I love your writing style and attitude too and was also great to hear you on the Food Programme.

    Good luck to you Jack (and SB), thank you for sharing your recipes and thoughts with us all, I appreciate it!

  10. Thanks for the reminder! For a long time I made soda bread every three days – so quick and easy! I almost never have lemons/juice on hand, but vinegar also works perfectly to sour the milk, and that’s always in my cupboard. One comment regarding the taste of the bread: after months, my loaves suddenly started to taste a bit sour or bitter, and after talking to a professional baker, I decided it was down to the age of the flour. Now I pay more attention to using up flour before it “ages” πŸ™‚

  11. went to a dinner party last night and someone bought a loaf using your recipe – I can honestly say it was one of the most delicious bread I have ever tasted – it was so light and had a cake quality to it – absolutely delicious

  12. Tried your soda bread really great. Most recipes use buttermilk which is almost as expensive as buying the bread. Living in Ireland in the 70’s bread was made daily in the rayburn using full fat soured milk. A constant supply stored next to the range. Im going to try the remoska as 40min of oven is a bit wasteful in this weather. Keep up the work!!

  13. Just made this – it’s lovely. I’ve been on a yeast-free diet for about 3 years now, so soda bread is pretty much the only bread I can eat. I usually order some with my veggie box, but this is fab so I will make this instead. A rough estimate from the ingredien it cost me about 35-40p to make a 500g loaf. Much cheaper than the Β£2.45 I pay usually. I have made my own before but most recipes are made with butter milk – hard to come by and expensive. I’ve recently gone dairy-free so made it with oat milk and doubled the quantity of everything. I added half a tea spoon of salt – call me a salt addict if you like πŸ˜‰ Anyway, thanks – this is great and another fabulous recipe. Thanks so much xx

  14. Amazing – I have never made bread successfully before – I had a hate-hate relationship with a breadmaker and it won! Thanks for the inspiration: I have made bread and planted a herb garden. X

  15. Thanks so much Jack! I have never been able to make bread it always goes wrong and now I just wont even attempt anything with yeast in! but this I can make and not only that but the kids will eat it! thanx Jack πŸ™‚ xxx

  16. Dont know how u get it to work. 200g of flour and 200ml of milk. I don’t like my dough to be a batter! Had to add loads more flour to get it to take all the milk. Even making normal bread takes 300ml of liquid to 500g of flour. Haven’t found a decent soda bread recipe yet.

  17. I had a go at making this recipe at a friend’s house where I could use their scales, and I worked out the quanitities in a way that doesn’t need scales or measuring cups. I measured using a normal teaspoon and a normal coffee mug:

    1 mug self-raising flour
    1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
    1/2 mug milk
    2 teaspoons of lemon juice OR half a lemon

    Points to note:
    1) milk works as either soya, UHT or normal
    2) instead of using lemon juice, you can use a little vinegar to sour the milk
    3) 1/2 mug should be more than enough liquid, so don’t add it all in in one go

  18. I went to a friend’s house and had a go at making this recipe while I had access to their scales. I used that opportunity to adapt the recipe so that I can make it at home without scales or measuring spoons. I used a normal teaspoon and a coffee mug:

    1 mug self-raising flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 mug milk
    2 teaspoons lemon juice OR juice of half a lemon

    Points to note:
    1) If you don’t have any lemons/lemon juice you can use a bit of vinegar to sour the milk
    2) You don’t necessarily need all the liquid, so add it a bit at a time so you can get the consistency right
    3) For milk I’ve used soy, UHT, and “normal” milk, and it worked fine each time

    My bread was a little “cakey” but I think that may have been partly because I made the dough a bit wet.

    Thanks, Jack!

  19. Hi Jack

    I am a lurker rather than a poster but thought you or other readers may find this handy. Here is a soda bread recipe which does not use milk or other dairy, just water. Handy if you don’t have any milk in or have an allergy. It isn’t quite as good as normal soda bread but is still very nice and very quick with there being no yeast to pamper. Apologies for the approximate temperatures/ times- I am terrible for turning the dials constantly and opening the oven door so I never really know how hot it is or how long it takes!

    4 cups flour (I use bread flour as I have somehow accumulated lots of it but I bet any flour will work ok)
    1 tablespoon of sugar
    1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
    1/2 teaspoon of salt
    1 1/2 cups of water
    2 teaspoons of cider vinegar (I used red wine vinegar as it’s all I had- it was fine)

    Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius. Mix the dry ingredients together. Add the wet and mix it all up. Roll into a roundy loaf shape and plop onto a suitably prepared tray (I don’t find bread sticks to my trays at all but my mum can’t remove a loaf in one piece!). Give it an egg wash if you’re feeling extravagant. Turn the oven down to 180-190 ish and bake for 40 minutes- keep checking it. It’s done when it sounds hollow if you knock on the bottom.
    I tend to make this into rolls instead- makes 8 big rolls. If you make rolls they’ll only take about 25 minutes. They are lovely straight out of the oven with butter on. They also freeze well- leave them to cool then just chuck them in. They take about 1 1/2 minutes each to defrost on the defrost setting on my microwave. They are a little more crumbly after being defrosted but they keep for ages in the freezer.
    Hope someone finds this useful- it’s great for when you want soda bread really cheaply (have you seen how much they charge for it in the supermarkets!!!!)

    • Clare, this website uses gluten free flour
      I expect you could use it without too many problems. Note that unless you use a gluten free bread mix, you would need to add some guar gum or xanthan gum. You can find them in the gluten-free bit in supermarkets, along with the gluten-free bread mixes if you felt inclined to try them. Sometimes adding an egg or an egg white is handy when you take away gluten, as gluten is a protein so you are putting that protein back. Egg helps to make the bread rise and keep shape. Remember to take some liquid out of the recipe if you add egg (about half a cup per egg). Also gluten helps the bread to keep its shape, so if you use gluten free, use a loaf tin or for buns use a large muffin tin or something similar, or you may well end up with a ‘splat’!
      Hope this helps.

  20. I also make Sodabread to a very similar recipe. Till I found an amazing way to make buttermilk (to costly to buy and not available locally) quarter ounce both sugar and yeast. Quarter pint milk and again water. Leave overnight, add pound of flour and teaspoon salt the next day, voilΓ  . Lovely loaf. My go to….. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the falafel recipe can’t wait to feed my nearly two year old and me on some. Yom x x

  21. I’m going to try this but with a gluten free flour blend as I’m wheat intolerant (especially this new modern stuff they’ve brought out.) Do you think this recipe is gluten dependent?

  22. My Sister came to see us this weekend and she can’t eat yeast and I make all our own bread so I was a bit stuck. However I came across this recipe as I didn’t have any yoghurt or buttermilk and made it before breakfast. It is brilliant. We went for a walk on the cliffs, came back and toasted some and had it with butter and strawberry conserve!! Absolutely delicious, I will be making a lot more of this in the future, Thanks Jack!!

  23. Hi Jack

    You’re quite right about this bread being easy-peasy! I think it’s one of the easiest things you can make in a kitchen!

    But if you really want to pare it back to basics – this is as simple as it gets – just s-raising flour and water. It’s the cheapest bread there is – but it’s still very tasty, and it ends up costing less than 7p for ingredients.

    It’s also very quick – there’s a link at the foot of the post for the bread made in a frying pan, which takes about 13 minutes!

    And this bread will cost you around 3.5p! (But that’s because it uses half the ingredients! πŸ™‚ )

    Take care, Paul

    Ps. More power to your elbow – you’re doing a wonderful job!

  24. Just a quick thank you. I made this today for the first time, my other half described it as ‘a triumph’!

    If anyone is nervous to try making bread, don’t be – this recipe is so simple and is delicious.

    Thanks again

  25. As I had no lemon,I used vinegar to sour the milk.
    I added some honey to counteract the bitterness.
    It turned out perfectly.I have now used your recipe
    many times,with my own little tweaks.Keep up your good work!

  26. I’ve made this bread several times. I make two at a time. To one I add a large handful of grated cheese and two teaspoons of mixed herbs. To the other, 25g sugar, 2 teaspoons of mixed spice, a couple of handfuls of washed sultanas and some chopped nuts.

    Both delicious. Thank you for posting the basic recipe. Love it! My lunches for the week and so cheap πŸ™‚

  27. I’ve been meaning to make this for ages and have always been hopeless with bread. Today was the day! Like everyone says, it was fabulous. Eaten warm from the oven with home made turkey soup from the freezer, yummy. I’ve eaten more than I should have done!! πŸ™‚

  28. Thank you for this recipe. I didn’t have any lemon juice so I used white vinegar instead. I also added nuts and seeds and hemp. It was very nice. I might also try a version with raisins/sultanas like a kind of scone or something. It’s the first time I made soda bread!

  29. I know I’m a bit late on this but thank you so much, Jack – what a fab, foolproof recipe. I made this tonight and I think it’ll be gone before the morning!
    I love cooking but have never attempted to make bread because of all the faffing. This was so quick and easy and absolutely delicious that I’ll be making it regularly. In fact, I intend to make a larger loaf tomorrow.
    I’m on a budget with two little ones so I understand where you’re coming from and I think what you’ve achieved thus far is incredible. Keep it up! X

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  31. excellent recipe – saw it in my lunch break and decided to make it to accompany my evening spicy chickpea soup and I made a small batch as its just me and my partner – and from start to finish it was ready within 25 minutes!!!

  32. Done this for first time today. Thought I’d made a mistake until I walked near the oven as it was doing and could smell it. I didn’t get it looking as good as I could have done, but very nice. And I’ve finally made my own bread πŸ™‚

  33. I didn’t have enough SR flour so bulked our with gram flour and a handful of porridge oats. Absolutely beautiful bread. Yummers

  34. I have made this several times with normal flour, but want to try it made with gluten free flour – have you ever done that and how did it turn out?

  35. Thank you Jack. Can’t post a photo of my loaf this morning but really pleased with it. Soup in the slow cooker πŸ™‚

  36. Just made this – delicious, cheap and easy, thanks for recipe. The recipe had been given by somebody else and I’ve just discovered it’s yours originally, wanted to let you know I enjoy all of your recipes and they are much appreciated by this financially-struggling Mum.

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