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Quick and delicious spelt soda bread recipe

spelt soda bread.jpgThe no knead spelt bread that I mentioned last week was finally finished today. It was eaten for four days by me and Danny joined me for the last two days. So with six breakfasts and lunches the loaf achieved a good innings. I sliced it ultra fine (3mm) as this loaf could be aptly described as condensed bread. 

The bag containing my packed lunch was easily slipped into a back pocket rather than filling a chunky lunch box. These slimline sandwiches were far more satisfying than their chubby forbears. And there was no yearning to lift the lid of someone else’s biscuit tin mid afternoon. Pamela has since written to tell me that she tried leaving the spelt loaf to rise naturally, it doesn’t take long – her loaf was going great guns after half an hour. So I’m going to try that method next time.

Although it tasted good and lasted well it had very little hanger appeal. It reminded me of a paler version of the rye bread that my mum used to buy in cellophane packs when we were growing up. Dense and nutty, but without the rye sourness. Great as an occasional treat but not as a staple for every meal.

This evening I examined The Daily Telegraph recipe for spelt soda bread and decided to play with the idea of using spelt flour in a soda bread recipe. The Telegraph recipe used all spelt flour and I reckoned that this would produce a very heavy loaf. Irish brown soda bread, always referred to as ‘brown bread’ in Ireland, uses a mix of white and brown flour.

I also had a brief look at Myrtle Allen’s The Ballymaloe Cookbook where she chats about her initial difficulty of producing really good soda bread when she first got married. She mentions that adding cream of tartar to a soda bread recipe had spectacular results. She suggests a 100:50 bicarbonate of soda/cream of tartar ratio (one teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda to half a teaspoon of cream of tartar). With the bicarbonate of soda, cream of tartar and a large egg, I hoped that my loaf would rise well. With the Irish contingent of our family tucked away down in Reading for the night, I had no one looking over my shoulder.

When the loaf was lifted from the oven I was sad that Danny was dining elsewhere. The loaf had risen well. It had a good crisp crust, crunchier than the traditional brown soda bread one. The bread inside was soft with a good texture and flavour. The bread was a triumph – much better than my traditional brown soda bread that we’ve enjoyed until now.

I’m keen to test the Daily Telegraph’s idea of supplementing buttermilk with milk and lemon juice or wine vinegar. Buttermilk is quite pricey unless you are making your own butter when it’s a natural by product of the process.

As Danny cut a second slice of my white soda bread he announced that adding an egg and a handful of medium oatmeal to a white loaf was a bit wild as these are traditionally just added to the brown version in Ireland. I was amazed until I remembered that soda breadmaking is taken very seriously indeed over the water. It is here too but I have the freedom to dive in and experiement. Despite bucking tradition we both loved my whiite soda bread and have used an egg in our soda bread mixture ever since. I think that this may be the secret to our recent success with soda bread. Perhaps this helps it keep better too as it’s still edible on the third day.

So here’s my recipe for Spelt soda bread. Much lighter than the no knead spelt loaf. Delicious sampled warm from the oven, spread with Guernsey butter. Hopefully, a tasty companion for breakfast and lunch over the next few days. It keeps best wrapped in a tea towel in a cool part of the kitchen.

Quick and delicious spelt soda bread recipe


  • 280g of stone ground spelt flour
  • 280g of plain white flour
  • 1 rounded tsp of bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 rounded tsp of salt
  • Half a rounded tsp of cream of tartar
  • 1 large egg
  • 400ml of buttermilk and milk mix (I used a commercially produced one – 284ml and topped it up with semi skimmed milk)


Preheat your oven to 230c (200c fan)

  1. Put the flour into a large bowl and mix well. Sift in the soda, cream of tartar and salt. Mix very well.
  2. Pour your buttermilk and milk into a measuring jug. Crack the egg into the mixture and beat well.
  3. Make a well in the centre of the flour. Pour in the milk and egg mixture and quickly draw in the flour to make a soft dough. Don’t linger over the dough, speed is of the essence.
  4. Remove to a well floured baking sheet and form the dough into a flat ball about 2” high. Cut a cross on the top. Put in the centre of your preheated oven for twenty minutes. Then turn the temperature down to 200c (180c fan) for a further 25-30 minutes. If it sounds hollow when you knock the base it is ready.

  Leave a reply


  1. Hello Fiona

    The soda bread sound delicious. But you have to try the short rise method on the no-knead spelt bread. It is a revelation. It has all the flavour of the condensed version but is an all together different beast in terms of texture. It is still very filling but the slices are twice the size. I only let it rise for about 30 mins by which time it was about an inch above the top of the tin.

  2. I have had a big thing for spelt ever since I tried it in some organic Dorset Cereals. It has that rich, full flavour that just tastes like the good old days. This is a great recipe!

  3. I’ve made soda bread with milk and vinegar when I couldn’t get hold of buttermilk and the results were great. I’ve heard it works with natural yoghurt as well, but haven’t tried it. I like the idea of using half spelt flour! Mmmh, now I want to get into my kitchen and make soda bread!

  4. Hi, I’ve been making soda bread with just spelt flour for awhile now and really like it. I have also used Kefir, a Turkish yogurt, mixed with milk as part of the recipe which works really nicely. I love making soda bread as it’s so quick and easy and I’m not very good at planning ahead!! Hope you enjoy yours.

  5. Howling Duck Ranch

    Wow, it looks gorgeous! I’ve never cooked with spelt before, going to have to try this one. I generally love Irish soda bread, so this is a nice twist to try.

  6. Michael J

    After moving to London and finding myself pining for home baked brown bread I set out to find all the ingredients. I was surpised how difficult it was to find buttermilk and when I did find it, it was very expensive. I tried adding lemon juice and even vinegar to “organic” milk which after 1 week siting out of the fridge, failed to thicken – jaunting my faith in english dairy products a bit!

    Finally I found an affordable supply. Try your local Polish shop which always should have it in stock as the polish drink it quite like a yoghurt. The quality is great and it’s quite thick so you can thin it out with normal milk and my local “Polski Sklep” charges just 69p per litre. look out for “Maslanka Naturalna” in the fridge, but watch out as it comes in some flavoured varients.

  7. Hi There, I too adore ‘irish soda bread’,’brown bread’.
    I have just purchased some spelt flour so I’m eager to try your recipie, do you always add an egg to your soda bread, I haven’t tried that yet but shall have a go.
    I’m addicted to this easy bread and don’t eat anything other than it,so any new recipies are very welcome, thankyou for this great site, I shall let you know how spelt bread turns out. I’ve used yoghurt and it’s fine.
    I’m interested in the recipie that lets bread rise, never heard of that, plz can you let me have it to try, many thanks, Odelle X

  8. Hi all,
    Thanks, the bread was delicious, so, I’m now into soda bread made with ‘spelt’ flour, I used your recipie, used live nat. yoghurt(had no buttermilk) and the loaf is sooooo tasty!
    Hope you realise what you’ve done? Not only do I only eat irish soda bread (brown bread) and no other, it now has to be made with yes, you’ve guessed it ‘spelt’ flour. Beautiful, I think everyone should try it, they don’t know what they’re missing!!!!! Still would like to try the recipie where the loaf is left to rise please if anyone can help with the recipie. Many thanks.

  9. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Odelle

    There’s no special recipe for the loaf left to rise – just follow the recipe above and leave the loaf to rise for 30 minutes before putting it in the oven!

    I’d love to hear how it turns out for you :)

  10. Hi, firstly, may I say a huge thankyou for your reply, much appreciated!
    Ooooh, I shall be in the kitchen again in no time trying this out, I shall let you know the results or rather my waistline will, he,he……….
    Many,many thaunks,I shall let you know.
    Regards, Odelle X.

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