Soda bread with a few twists

What is this? A sunny bank holiday?! This is a time to be celebrated with some enjoyable eating. The blue skies and echoes of birdsong make all the difference, as does sitting outside with my morning coffee and feeling the sun on my face.

My weekends are a chance to take more time over eating and cooking which often involves making myself brunch. In part this saves deciding on what to have for two meals and it provides a step change into the weekend. BBC 6 music is turned on, fresh coffee is made and the pans are out ready for something which will very likely involve eggs.

I am currently reading Ruby Tandoh’s book ‘Eat up’ which covers a broad spectrum of what eating means from enjoying the simplicity of a boiled egg, to how certain foods lift your spirits, through to the therapeutic ‘me time’ you can feel by baking. This lit a spark with me and inspired me to bake something to go with my bank holiday brunch.

What you need to know at this point is I’m not a baker, I envy those with the patience and passion to follow baking recipes to create the perfect sponge or incredible sourdough. I like to cook with more spontaneity and less rules, which are not the core skills needed for successful baking. This is why I love making soda bread as it is easy, quick and requires no real kneading. You can add a few different additions to the mix for texture and extra flavour if you want to.

I used the River Cottage soda bread recipe and added a few spices and seeds to provide my twist. The smell of baking bread soon filled the kitchen and like the good weather this aroma made me feel happy. As Ruby says in her book, “So, food anchors us in this world. It’s something that earths us, even when our head is in the clouds.”  Yes, it does and this for me is why cooking and eating matter so much.

Soda bread

Soda bread

The bread takes 45 minutes to cook and when I opened the oven door I was rewarded with a beautiful transformation, wow. I left the bread to cool, resisting the urge to just rip a chunk off with my hands and eat it there and then.

Soda bread

I served my soda bread with sautéed red onion and spinach seasoned with lemon zest and black pepper, topped with poached eggs and sumac.

Poached eggs and spinach on soda bread

Soda bread with a few twists

500g plain flour
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon salt
400ml yoghurt (you can use buttermilk, water, milk)
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
½ teaspoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds


Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Sift the flour into a bowl, add the salt and bicarbonate of soda and mix well. Add the yoghurt and gently knead until all of the ingredients come together to form a rough ball.

Lightly flour a baking tray and add the loaf, shaping it into a round and cross the top with a knife, cutting deep (not all quite all the way through but close). Dust the loaf with flour and bake in the oven for 45 minutes.

Leave to cool and then eat!

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