This easy no-knead Irish soda bread is filled with crispy bacon, cheddar cheese and spring onion. This quick, no-yeast recipe can be made in under an hour!
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Homemade bread has been very popular over the last few months during lockdown. It’s been amazing to hear from so many of you who have tried my other bread recipes such as my Simple White Cob Loaf. I’m glad to have helped show you that bread making isn’t as intimidating as it seems!
However, I figured it was time to give your hands a rest and offer you a no-knead bread option. This bacon, cheese and spring onion soda bread recipe is incredibly easy and quick to make, I promise!
What is irish soda bread?
Soda bread is a traditional Irish quick bread. It’s an interesting bread in that it doesn’t contain yeast so requires no kneading or proving. Do you know what that means? This can be made quickly at a moment’s notice and out of the oven all in less than an hour!
Soda bread recipes can come in different forms, from wholemeal to white bread, to sweet or savoury. My Classic Irish Soda Bread recipe contains no add-ins, so if you’d like to try a plain traditional soda bread recipe give that a try too!
What flour do I need to make soda bread?
Unlike yeasted bread recipes where strong bread flour is recommended, soda bread requires just plain flour. For this recipe, I use plain white flour. The reason for this is that you don’t need the higher protein content found in strong flour (which helps develop the gluten in kneaded loaves). As no kneading is required for soda bread, plain flour works just fine!
I’ve seen some soda bread recipes which use self-raising flour instead of plain flour. I haven’t tested this myself but if that’s all you have it seems that can work too!
Irish Soda Bread Recipe Ingredients
The base of this easy soda bread recipe contains just four ingredients, as in my Classic Irish Soda Bread:
- Plain flour for the main structure of the loaf
- Salt for flavour
- Bicarbonate of soda for leavening of the loaf
- Buttermilk to activate the bicarbonate of soda
Then we add in four final ingredients to create this amazing flavour combination: black pepper, crispy bacon, grated strong cheddar cheese, and finely chopped spring onion!
Soda bread is typically eaten slathered in butter or dipped in hot soup, although this delicious flavour-packed loaf is delicious eaten on its own!
Can I make soda bread without buttermilk?
Buttermilk is the traditional ingredient used as its acidity works with the bicarbonate of soda to help the loaf rise. If you used normal milk, the lactic acid would still activate it but buttermilk works best. I have seen other methods of using yogurt or sour cream instead of buttermilk, though I haven’t tried these alternatives myself.
If you can’t find buttermilk, don’t worry as it’s easy to make your own at home! Just measure out the same amount of full fat or semi-skimmed milk and add around 2 tablespoons of either lemon juice or white wine vinegar. Stir it together and leave the milk aside for around 10 minutes.
I don’t recommend using skimmed milk as it doesn’t work so well – the mixture is more watery and you end up with a stickier dough. To turn your skimmed milk into full fat milk, replace 30ml of the milk for 30ml double cream. Stir to combine, then turn this into buttermilk as described above!
It will become slightly thicker and curdled and this what you want – you now have buttermilk substitute! The extra acidity added to the milk will now help to activate the bicarbonate more effectively, resulting in a better rise to your soda bread.
How to make irish soda bread
I’m not exaggerating when I say this bread is shockingly easy to make. You’ll feel like you’ve missed out a few steps as it comes together so quickly and easily. Full instructions with photos can be found in the recipe at the bottom of this post, but here is a summary of the method:
- Finely chop your bacon and spring onions and grate your strong cheddar (so they incorporate well throughout the loaf)
- Fry up the bacon pieces until crispy and golden then set aside to cool slightly
- Add the flour, salt, pepper and bicarbonate of soda to a large bowl and whisk together until combined
- Next, add the bacon and spring onions and whisk again until combined
- Add the grated cheese and mix (I find it easier to do this part with my hand)
- Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour the buttermilk in
- Stir all the ingredients together with a wooden spoon or spatula
- Pat the dough into a ball by hand and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper, or use a silicone baking tray which doesn’t need to be lined
- cut a cross into the loaf, going almost all the way through to the bottom
- fill the cross with extra grated cheddar
- Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until risen and golden brown
- Leave to cool on a wire rack
Can I use baking powder instead of bicarbonate of soda?
Unfortunately not. As mentioned above, we need that specific reaction between the bicarbonate of soda (also known as baking soda) and acidic milk to create the rise we need in this no-yeast loaf. Baking powder won’t react in the same way so can’t be used as a substitute.
How is soda bread different to bread containing yeast?
As soda bread doesn’t require kneading or proving, the gluten structure of the loaf is quite different. The texture inside has a closer, denser crumb, and the buttermilk helps keep the bread moist. It also has an amazingly thick, crunchy crust!
A thick, buttered slice of this soda bread, flecked with pieces of bacon, green spring onion and strong cheddar is seriously delicious. So when you’re craving bread in a hurry, this will definitely satisfy those cravings!
Do I need to cut a cross in my soda bread?
Slicing a cross into the loaf almost all the way through helps to bake the thickest part in the centre. The heat can get to it more easily, helping it to rise. This then creates four chunky wedges of bread!
For this soda bread recipe, I sprinkle extra grated cheese inside the cross before baking it! Because when is extra cheese ever a bad thing?
How do I store soda bread?
Soda bread is most fresh on the day of baking, so best eaten on that day. This is because it dries out quicker than other types of bread. Just keep it stored in an airtight container at room temperature. It’ll still be good for dipping in some soup a day or so after baking though!
Can I freeze soda bread?
Absolutely, I often do this as it’s great to get a wedge of bread out on a day I know I’ll be having soup, stew or casserole. Just cut into wedges or slices, wrap it in film and/or store in an airtight container. It’s best eaten within 3 months.
In summary, this delicious bacon, cheese and spring onion soda bread is:
- a genuinely easy quick bread that doesn’t require kneading as it contains no yeast
- made with simple plain flour
- made using buttermilk, which can be made easily at home (as described in the post above and in recipe instructions below)
- packed full of crispy bacon, strong cheddar cheese and green spring onion
- finished with an extra helping of cheese!
If you try this recipe I’d love to see! You can show me by tagging me @bakerjoblog or using #bakerjoblog!
Other Bread recipes to try:
Bacon, Cheese and Spring Onion Soda Bread
- Large mixing bowl
- Baking tray lined with baking paper, or a silicone baking tray
- Frying pan
- Wooden spoon/spatula
- 490 g plain white flour
- 1/2 tsp salt rounded
- 1/2 tsp black pepper rounded
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (also known as baking soda) level
- 460 ml buttermilk room temperature. See notes below for making DIY buttermilk
- 8 rashers streaker bacon finely chopped and fried until crispy and golden brown
- 4 spring onions finely chopped
- 250 g grated cheese, divided 200g for bread dough, 50g to sprinkle along cross before baking
- Preheat your oven to 200°/180° fan.
- Finely chop the bacon and fry on a medium heat for around 5 minutes until stightly crunchy and golden brown.
- Place cooked bacon on a piece of paper towel to absorb some of the excess fat and leave aside to cool slightly.
- To a large bowl add the plain flour, salt, pepper and bicarbonate of soda. Whisk to combine.
- To this large bowl add the finely chopped spring onions and cooled bacon pieces. Whisk to combine.
- Add 200g of grated cheese to the bowl and mix to combine. I find this easier to do with my hand.
- Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredeients.
- Pour the buttermilk into the well and stir with a wooden spoon at first. As it gets more difficult to stir with the spoon use your hand instead to mix and press the dough together until a rough ball of dough is formed. The dough will be quite sticky. If too sticky to form a ball, add a tablespoon of flour at a time until it looks as shown.
- Place the ball of dough onto your baking tray (either a silicon tray or one lined with baking paper/parchment).
- Using a large sharp knife, cut down the centre horizontally and vertically to create four sections. Cut almost to the very bottom as shown. Don’t worry, the sections will slightly join together again as the loaf rises in the oven.
- Now sprinkle the remaining 50g of grated cheese into the cross.
- Dust the top of the loaf with some plain flour and then place in the preheated oven on the middle shelf for 30 minutes.
- Remove from oven and check that it is baked by inserting a skewer into one of the thickest parts and check that it comes out clean.
- Place on a wire cooling rack. Soda bread is best eaten on the same day. I usually freeze any leftover wedges, double wrapping them in cling film. Then I take a wedge out an hour or so before needing it, and usually place in a warm oven so it tastes fresh again!