The other night I decided to make a pasta dish for dinner. It was quick and simple. My only problem was I needed bread. To sit down to pasta or rice for dinner without bread to me would be unthinkable. I don’t know why it should be so but it is. I usually make my own version of Nigella Lawson’s Garlic and Parsley Hearth Breads. but it was late and I really couldn’t be bothered faffing around waiting for yeast to rise. I then wondered if I could make a sort of flat bread using my soda bread recipe. For those of you who are not familiar, soda bread is common in Ireland and is so called because the levening agent is Bicarbonate of Soda or Baking Soda. It’s a mix, stir and pop in the oven bread. No rising time. It is really a scone mixture. The reason this bread is part of the Irish culinary heritage is simple enough. In this land where the influence of the Gulf Stream prevents either great extremes of heat in the summer or cold in the winter, the hard wheats, which need such extremes to grow, don’t prosper .It’s such wheats that make flour with a high gluten content, producing bread which rises high and responds well to being leavened with yeast. Soft wheats, though, have always grown well enough here. In Ireland, “plain” soda bread is as likely to be eaten as an accompaniment to a main meal (to soak up the gravy) as it’s likely to appear at breakfast. It comes in two main colours, brown (also called wheaten bread) and white. I digress. I was not sure if this idea would work or not but I glanced through Rachel Allen’s ‘Bake’ I saw she had done something similar and it looked good. I just sort of combined Nigella’s Hearth Bread Recipe with the Soda Bread. I have to report it was a runaway success. I will definitely make it again. Do you know it was still nice the next day split and popped in the toaster.


3-4 tablespoons Olive Oil
250gms /9oz plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon Salt
125-200ml /6-7 fl ozbuttermilk


Crushed squished or jarred garlic
Chopped parsley
Olive oil to mix
Maldon salt to sprinkle


Finely chop a little parsley and mix with some of the oil oil and garlic. Use enough that will spread generously across the top of the dough.

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 8.

Brush an 20cmx20cm/8″x8″ square sandwich tin generously with olive oil.

Sieve the plain flour,baking soda and salt into a large bowl

Make a well in the centre, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and pour in most of the buttermilk.

Mix until it comes together to form a soft but not sticky dough.

Tip onto a floured surface and roll out to fit the tin

Set the dough in the oiled tin and dimple it all over with your fingers

Brush the top with the prepared garlic and parsley topping and sprinkle with a little maldon salt if desired

Bake for 20-25 minutes Just keep checking as all ovens are different.

When ready it will be golden brown, should feel firm in the centre and a skewer will come out clean.

Transfer it to a wire rack and cool for a couple of minutes.

Cut into squares and serve.

This gave me about nine squares of bread which was more than enough for two. If you want more you could double it up and use a bigger tin such as a swiss roll tin.

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