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Soda Bread Without Buttermilk
I don’t know about you, but kitchen substitutions are practically an art form around here. Whether it’s cocoa powder instead of baking chocolate, oil instead of butter, or flour instead of cornstarch, if it’s possible to substitute something, I’ve probably tried it.
As you can probably guess, once upon a time I wished to make Irish soda bread without buttermilk. Buttermilk isn’t something I typically keep in the fridge, so I had to use a substitution trick with regular milk instead. You’ll get all the details on that in the recipe.
The nice thing about soda bread is that not only does it bake up quickly, it’s a versatile bread that can be used at different meals.
I like to serve some to my kids for breakfast, spread thickly with strawberry jam. Of course, I eat it right alongside them, because I would never pass up a chance to have Irish soda bread. We toast each other with cups of cold DairyPure brand milk, which is a lovely way to start the day. DairyPure brand milk comes from your local dairy and is backed by a 5-Point Purity Promise, making it an easy choice when shopping for milk.
Save your soda bread leftovers for afternoon snack! You can do what I do, and cut a few pieces to make chocolate peanut butter sandwiches for when they get hungry at the end of the day. They love it when I serve TruMoo Chocolate Milk with their sandwiches. The great thing about TruMoo Chocolate Milk is that it’s the perfect balance of nutritious and delicious, so they’re happy and I’m happy, too.
Tips for Making Soda Bread Without Buttermilk
- Irish soda bread is best made and eaten the same day. After cooling completely, store airtight.
- I like to make a really deep cross-shaped cut in the loaf. The expansion not only allow it to cook completely in the middle (the thickest part), but it looks really cool!
- For another option, try slathering it with salted butter and a drizzle of warm, raw honey.
- I love to bake on a pizza stone! You can spend a lot of money on a fancy one, but I usually just pick up a bargain baking stone that performs well. That way, if it cracks—and they all do eventually—it’s not a big loss to replace it. This Wilton ceramic pizza stone is a steal for just $12.
Note: if you need a gluten free soda bread, try this recipe.
Soda Bread Without Buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 2 cups milk approximately
- 4 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
If you have a baking stone, place it on the center oven rack. Preheat the oven to 400.
Add the vinegar to 2 cup or larger measuring vessel. Add enough milk to equal a total 2 cups of liquid. Let sit for a minute while you prep the dry ingredients.
Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Whisk thoroughly. Make a well in the center and pour in the soured milk. Mix lightly with a fork until the dough comes together.
Lightly flour a surface. Tip the dough onto the floured surface, then flour your hands. Gently knead the dough a couple of times, for about 20 seconds. Use a large, sharp knife to cut the dough in two equal pieces.
Gently shape the pieces into round loaves, flattening slightly on top. Use your knife to cut a deep cross into the top of each loaf.
Place in the oven and bake for about 35 minutes. Let cool on a rack before serving.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
I’m not sure if I’ve ever had soda bread, although I probably have since I am a huge bread lover. This sounds so tasty, I’d love to try your recipe.
Not had soda bread?! Well, you must try it! 😉
Can you use apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar?
Yes, absolutely. That will work fine.
I’ve just made this during the “lockdown” and we love it. It was so easy – the fact that it doesn’t need yeast or buttermilk made it a doddle to create.
My stepson enjoyed a warm piece for breakfast and we toasted it for lunch.
I baked it in a Le Creuset “Dutch Oven” with the lid off, and sprinkled with flour at the bottom so that it didn’t no stick. Though, it probably wouldn’t stick, anyway?
A little flour on the bottom is a great idea if you’re using foil. If you use parchment paper, you can probably skip the flour sprinkling, but either way there’s no harm in it. So glad you enjoyed it! Try my fluffy tortillas some time, they’re great!
You don’t need vinegar either. Here’s a note I sent to a friend today explaining:
“Btw, sister Elizabeth gave me a foolproof Jamie Oliver recipe bread recipe – here’s the original – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gD6w6Tt9sAI – he takes 37 mins over it.
I’ve adapted it – I mix one baked bean tin of wholemeal flour, half a baked bean tin of milk, half a teaspoon of salt, and a slightly heaped teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda – it takes me 6-7 mins to do it from scratch. I put the dough into a cake tin (mine is 19cmx9cmx5cm) with lining and bake at 180C for 40 mins. Have a go! Previously, I’d be weighing flour and milk and souring the milk, etc., much more time consuming.
It’s very N.Irish – we call the wholemeal version “wheaten bread” (the white flour “soda farl” version is made on a griddle rather than the oven). What’s interesting is that we’ve always been told since childhood that buttermilk or milk soured by vinegar is needed to react with the bicarb soda to give CO2 to raise the dough. But his recipe just uses milk – I queried Elizabeth about if she’d got it right and she said “No, definitely just milk”. So I looked up the chemistry of bicarb soda and found that it breaks down to CO2 under heat anyway – amazing to find this out – it just goes to show that the folk wisdom isn’t always right.”
I’ve never had a bad result.
Soda bread is super tasty and I always run into recipes I want to make that require buttermilk but have non on hand. I learned the trick of using vinegar with regular milk for a friend and now I don’t have to worry about having buttermilk. This recipe is making me want some fresh bread so I might be baking tomorrow.
I hope you give it a whirl!
I’ve never had soda bread, and I think I’ve been missing out! I’ve pinned the recipe, and will be trying it when my bread loving stepson is staying with us. Thanks for an easy bread recipe, which looks impressively handmade and rustic!
I know, right? It almost feels like I must have cheated to have it come out so pretty without any real work. 😉
I have never had soda bread, but this looks so delicious. I have saved this for something for me to try. I hope that mine turns out as well as yours looks!
I hope so too! Let me know how it goes!
I have never made soda bread before so I guess its about time to give it a try. My friend makes it often and I always eat it like crazy when she does. I will have to give it a try, maybe with almond flower?
I’ve never tried it with almond flour, so I would be very curious how it turned out.
Amy @ Marvelous Mommy
I just started getting into making my own bread. I will try this soda bread recipe!
This is a great recipe to start out with! Minimal kneading and no rise, so it’s practically foolproof.
Can this recipe be made with Almond milk? I am a very sensitive diabetic and milk has lotsa sugar it. Allie
Yes, absolutely. Pretty much any milk can be used.
I really enjoyed making this bread with my son – nice and simple for a three year old to help with. It was yummy to eat too! Thank you 🙂
That’s wonderful! It makes me so happy to hear when someone enjoyed one of my recipes. 🙂 Thank you!
I’ve tried making soda bread with all sorts of recipes. My mum used to make it & I loved it but I’ve never managed to get it quite like mums. . This is by far the best & simplest recipe I have ever used. The bread was fabulous. My husband also said it was the best he’s ever tasted!! Result!!! Thank you so much.
Hi Marie! Thank you so much! You made my day by sharing your happy recipe experience with me. Happy new year!
Looks good. How about adding raisins? Have you tried and how would it change the recipe?
Hi Jolene! I haven’t tried it, but I’m sure it would work just fine. I don’t think any changes would need to be made. Enjoy!
Just put this into the oven! I was at the store and could only find soda bread with raisins (which I hate) so I was like whatever I’ll just make it. Came home and was like $h*t really t soda bread had like four ingredients and I seriously don’t have one?! So I came across this and am giving it a try! I’ll be sure to give you a shoutout on my blog with pics after ?
Awesome, Abbey! Looking forward to it! 🙂
It turned out PERFECT! My husband said he liked it than any of the other soda breads I have made him before. I was so excited I had to blog about it and gave you a big shoutout 🙂
Yay! I’m so glad! I just read your blog post and loved it. Left a comment and also shared it on Twitter. Thank you so much for trying my recipe and for leaving feedback.
I make yoghurt so always have a supply of whey from straining it. I use the whey instead of milk or buttermilk to make scones and soda bread – it is perfect for the job!
That’s a brilliant substitution! I will have to try that.
Just found this recipe. Its in the oven baking now and smells so good. Thank you for sharing it.
I have a group of wannabe irish speakers getting together this evening and we are so lucky to have found an Irish teacher here in Burlungton/hamilton. So the soda bread will be a great hit.
Thank you for this very simple recipe. Norah
Thank you for your kind words! Enjoy your soda bread. 🙂
I’m just baking this right now. My 20 month old has really enjoyed it. We are having this so I don’t have to go to the shop. We had everything in. Can’t wait to see how it comes out.
This recipe is absolutely delish! Of course I also happened to be out of white vinengar (go figure! Lol) but I did have a fresh lemon, so I subbed the fresh squeezed juice in for that part instead. All three of my children (and myself!) devoured their warm buttery/honey’d pieces right up! Will definitely be using this recipe again and again. I can already tell it’s going to pair well with our hearty chicken and wild rice soup for dinner tonight 😊 Thank you!!
Yay! I’m so glad you liked it. Someday I have to get around to posting my GF naan bread recipe too (they’re like really thick tortillas).
does it work if you use coconut milk? i’ve use the vinegar in regular milk before, but cant use cow milk.
I’ve never personally tried it, but from what I’ve read, you can make “buttermilk” from coconut milk using the same proportions as dairy milk plus vinegar (1 tablespoon vinegar in a 1 cup measure, then fill the cup with coconut milk).
Just made this tonight and it was awesome. I am terrible at baking but this was easy. The entire family loved it. The kids ate it with peanutbutter!
So glad you liked it! It’s a big hit at our house, too. 🙂
Looking forward to trying this easy recipe. All I have is almond milk. Would that work?
I have not tried it with almond milk, but I think it would most likely work. I often swap in coconut milk beverage in baking without having any trouble. It’s more fatty than almond milk, though.
During the Coronavirus lockdown here in England, we’ve not been able to get yeast… so I looked for ways of making bread that used baking soda instead. Finally found one that didn’t need buttermilk.
I made it yesterday, and my 17-daughter and 15-yo son loved it (as did I), to the extent that my son actually volunteered to help make it today.
For those in the UK, the conversion from “cups” to “UK way of measuring things” is a bit odd, since we use different ways of measuring liquids (volume) and flour (weight.) But what I came out with were:
2 tablespoons of white vinegar
16 fl ozs of milk
500g of flour
1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of sugar
Thank you so much for the conversion! I’m sure that will be very helpful to our friends in the UK. 🙂
In the oven right now, it smells heavenly. So easy to make. The dough was sticky is that normal. I couldn’t cut it with a knife before baking it. I. Going to make honey butter to spread on it when it’s done.
Depending on the particular flour and its water absorption properties, yes, the dough can definitely be a bit sticky. I usually flour my fingers when handling the uncooked dough.
Do I need a pizza stone for this?
Nope. A regular baking sheet or something similar will also work. A baking stone gives it a little extra “oomph” but is not required.
Could I substitute almond milk for someone who can’t do dairy ?
Most likely, yes. I have not tried using vinegar to curdle almond milk, but the principal is similar. I usually use coconut milk beverage when I want to do it dairy free.
Hi, do you think I can substitute the flour for bread flour? Thank you!
You can. It might be slightly tougher than a loaf made with all purpose flour, but it should work.
Looks delicious! Would it work to substitute almond milk for regular? All the best!
From what I’ve read, the substitution should work fine. I haven’t tried it personally, though. 🙂
It came out perfect, thanks!
I had the urge to make Irish soda bread yesterday, but I didn’t have any buttermilk. After a bit of searching, I found your recipe, which I made today. It turned out great! I just finished baking it! I didn’t have a pizza stone so I just used a baking sheet with parchment paper on it (and a bit of flour just in case). I think I’ll make it again soon
Hooray! I’m so glad you liked it!
Quick and easy to make. Flavors can be changed up. I used apple vinegar and added garlic into the batter.
I also buttered the pan with ghee, then basted the top with ghee before cutting the cross. Another touch, I sprinkled the the top with sesame seeds. Once baked, some Maldon sprinkled on top. My wife liked it so much, I am baking another loaf as I type this.
For the buttermilk substitute, I have used fresh lemon juice, champagne vinegar and white vinegar in the past. Any acid works, but I find that the apple vinegar adds just the right touch of sweetness.
Great tips! I love your enhancements and substitutions.
CAn I freeze the dough?Thank you
I haven’t tried it, so I’m not sure if it will work. This type of bread does not use yeast to rise, so it may have more trouble rising if it’s not put immediately in the oven.
Nancy Lee Campbell
So glad to find this recipe & all the comments, especially when not using buttermilk, not always available at the grocery store. I cook with coconut milk all the time , so nice to know about this too!! Can’t wait to try this version! Thank you so much. (Ontario, Canada)