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Martha Collison's soda bread

Soda bread

Martha Collison's quick and delicious bread recipe doesn't require yeast. This recipe yields two small loaves!

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  • Makes2
  • CourseAccompaniment
  • Prepare15 mins
  • Cook35 mins
  • Total time50 mins

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  • 250g plain flour
  • 250g wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 400ml buttermilk (see Martha’s tip), plus extra if needed
  • 1 tbsp clear honey


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6 and place a baking tray into the oven to heat up.

  2. Combine both flours in a large mixing bowl and add the salt and bicarbonate of soda. Make a well in the centre and add in the buttermilk and honey, as well as any additional ingredients for flavour variations. Use a round-ended knife to stir together the mixture, gradually incorporating the flour to form a soft dough. You may need to add a little extra buttermilk or milk to mop up any remaining flour.

  3. Knead the dough very briefly (overhandling the dough will make your loaf tough), divide in 2, then form into 2 cob shapes. Remove the baking tray from the oven and carefully place the dough onto the tray, then use a serrated knife to slash a deep cross on the top of each loaf. The slashes are important, as they allow the heat of the oven to penetrate right into the centre of the bread to help it bake evenly.

  4. Bake the loaves for 30-35 minutes or until a deep golden brown colour. If you tap the bottom of the loaf, it should sound hollow. Allow the loaf to cool for at least 15 minutes on a wire rack before serving warm with plenty of butter! Eat as soon as you can, as this bread tastes best fresh.

  5. Add a little variety: Beetroot & horseradish Grate 150g peeled fresh beetroot and squeeze any excess liquid out through kitchen paper. Add 1-2 tsp horseradish (freshly grated or hot horseradish from a jar) and the beetroot at step 2 and bake as directed. Walnut & cranberry Add 100g chopped walnuts and 100g dried cranberries at step 2, then serve big hunks as an accompaniment to cheese.

Cook’s tip

Martha's tip

Using buttermilk to create this loaf gives it a traditional tang, as well as providing the acid needed to react with the bicarbonate of soda to make the dough rise. However, it’s not always a fridge staple, so here are a few alternatives.

Mix 400ml milk with 1 tbsp of lemon juice, then leave to stand for 5 minutes to thicken. The mixture is now ready to use.


Thin 300ml yogurt or soured cream with 100ml water, then use immediately.


Typical values per item when made using specific products in recipe


445kJ/ 105kcals



Saturated Fat












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