This is the bread that is traditionally made at home. When unexpected guests show up and there’s nothing in the house I make it into scones by adding a teaspoon of caster sugar and baking at the higher temperature of 220°C (450°F/Gas 7) for about 15 minutes. For times like this; when the cupboard is bare of buttermilk, sour ordinary milk with the juice of half a lemon.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4).
Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a bowl.
Make a well in the centre.
Pour all of the buttermilk in. Using a large spoon, gently and quickly stir the liquid into the flour. It should be soft but not sticky.
Place in a 900g/2lb non-stick loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes until the loaf sounds hollow when turned out of the tin and tapped.
Place on a wire rack to cool.
Eat within hours cut into slices with butter or freeze.
For Brown Soda Bread:
For a light, brown mix use about three-quarters plain flour with one-quarter coarse stoneground wholemeal.
Add one to two tablespoons of pinhead oatmeal or very finely chopped nuts or seeds to the mix before adding the buttermilk.
You can also experiment by adding a handful of bran or wheatgerm or both, just be prepared to slightly increase the quantity of buttermilk.