Hot and fresh out the oven

Location: London, United Kingdom

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I always knew that I could rely on The Barbican Centre to satisfy my cultural and entertainment needs. But little did I know that it could teach me skills in the kitchen! James went along to their members-only Soda Bread Making Workshop a few weeks back, and it seems that the main take-out was how easy it is to make soda bread! So today we put the recipe to the test. I think it has changed my life.

We decided to make two types of bread: sultana bread and garlic and onion focaccia bread with rosemary, thyme and sea salt.

Even though I had a particular bias towards one of these options and a slight aversion to sultanas, I must admit that both types of bread were absolutely delicious. The sultana bread (baked with a hint of brown sugar) was crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside and picture perfect. The garlic and onion focaccia was full of flavour with the mix of herbs, sweet onion and crispy garlic a divine combination.

GB Score: 9/10

I have always been put off making yeast-based bread due to the amount of time it takes to wait for the dough to rise, rest etc. But this soda bread recipe is super quick and easy to make. The bread rises due to a chemical reaction between baking soda and buttermilk/yoghurt which occurs immediately but also continues while baking.

Garlic and Onion Focaccia Bread Recipe


  • 170g (1 1/3 cups) plain flour
  • 170g (1 1/3 cups) wholemeal flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 300mL buttermilk or plain yoghurt
  • Pinch of salt
  • Half an onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon chopped thyme
  • Crushed pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Put the olive oil, crushed garlic, rosemary, thyme and pepper in a small pot and cook over a low heat for 5-10 minutes. Take it off the heat before the garlic starts to brown.
  3. Mix together the two types of flour, baking soda, salt and chopped onion in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Make a well in the centre and pour in half of the oil/garlic mix plus the buttermilk or yoghurt.
  5. Mix quickly with a large fork (or your hands!) to form a soft dough.
  6. Lay some flour down on a flat surface and knead the dough until smooth and soft.
  7. Shape the dough however you like, poke some holes into the surface and spread the rest of the oil/garlic mix onto the top of the dough.
  8. Sprinkle sea salt onto the top.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes.
  10. Enjoy!

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