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It’s only MID-SEPTEMBER so STOP YOUR WHINING because you can still fire up that barbecue (that’s probably still out lying there in the yard or balcony) and pretend it’s still SUMMER … because it is technically ! Here’s an  easy, no-fuss, no-mess, delicious and tender IRISH that has become kind of MEDITERRANEAN SODA BREAD great for “emergency” uses, ready in (less than) 90-MINUTES,  from start to finish and this includes preheating the oven and letting the bread cool down after baking it !

This bread was a discovery for me, not because I was looking for another bread recipe but because I needed an easier, softer and extremely rapid bread for several last-minute uses (like soft hamburger buns with a nice crust on the outside or maybe even bread bowls to hollow out and fill up with an “end of (and desperately still trying to hang on to) summer salad”.

I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting with yeast, sourdough starter and flour mixes lately and I thought I was going to publish the post on how to make a sourdough starter first, followed by an easy 1-2-3 foolproof sourdough bread the following time, then perhaps a soda bread and finally a sliced sandwich bread recipe in the end (see the recipe here). But I’ve done it all backwards. That’s life.

Here’s a quick & easy Irish soda bread with modified ingredients to make it more "mediterranean" that requires no yeast. What's soda ? It's just BAKING SODA and it also substitutes the traditional BUTTERMILK with kefir. What’s KEFIR ? It’s a North African, Near Eastern, Balkan and sometimes Eastern European version of buttermilk.

And why ? Because we’ve all started up with work and/or school and something quick & easy is what we need now before adjusting to our new schedules !

THIS is a SIMPLE BREAD to make : no yeast, no kneading, no waiting. In fact you have to work quickly. Instead of yeast, you use baking soda. This baking soda will react very quickly with the fermented milk or kefir or buttermilk to make it rise. I also play around with the liquids, sometimes adding an egg and some oil and reducing the amount of kefir by the exact weight of that egg and oil for an even more tender result, especially if making smaller hamburger or bread buns as opposed to a larger loaf of bread that will be sliced. You can play around with that.

When making a large loaf, you’ll need to place the dough on a large piece of baking paper to transfer it to the very hot pre-heated baking dish because it’s too soft to handle but when making smaller buns or rolls, you can omit the use of baking paper and shape the smaller dough balls in smaller bowls sprinkled with flour which makes them rounder, firmer and less sticky thus easier to handle.

After your first trial, you can adjust it to your taste. You may decide to slightly increase the ratios and proportions. To make it easy, I use equal weights of dry ingredients to wet ingredients (excluding the salt, baking soda & sugar). If you use other types of flours, you can slightly increase or decrease the liquid content by 10-15% more or less because strong flours like wholewheat or bread flour will absorb more water than regular white all-purpose flour.

Every RECIPE needs ADJUSTMENTS. I had some overseas friends over for dinner and we were talking about how different our breads are, even though we’re using the exact same recipe. They live in Montreal, I live in Paris. Our ingredients are not exactly the same, the yeast we’re using may be fresher and more active or older and less effective, our water is different, the temperature and humidity levels are definitely different, our ovens are different too. Our breads using the exact same recipes yield slightly different results so just ADJUST the recipes ! After your first trial of any recipe, you need to take notes and adjust it for the second time you try it and so on and so on. Every recipe should be modified to your taste but also to your ingredients, equipment and environment.

JUST GIVE IT A TRY and next week, maybe we’ll talk about making “back to school & work” foods and how we already miss the warmer summer days . . . :)

wholewheat & kefir 'irish-mediterranean' soda bread & buns


6 buns of 65 grams or 1 loaf of 390 grams


dry ingredients : 

  • 250 grams (2 cups) mixed flours (1 cup wholemeal/wholewheat flour + 1 cup white all-purpose flour)
  • 5 grams (1 tsp) fine sea salt
  • 5 grams (1 tsp) baking soda
  • 5 grams (1 tsp) granulated sugar

wet or liquid ingredients :

*for 1 large loaf

  • 250 grams (1 cup) kefir (or buttermilk or other fermented milk product)

*for 6 softer bread buns or rolls

  • 190 grams (¾ cup) kefir (or buttermilk or other fermented milk product)
  • 55 grams (¼ cup or 1 large-sized) beaten egg
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) olive oil

optional garnishes : 

  • 10-20 grams (1-2 tbsp) toasted seeds (flax, sesame, sunflower, pumpkin) and/or poppy seeds
  • 2 grams (1 tsp) whole cumin seeds and/or caraway seeds


  • cut a large piece of baking paper (about 40-45 cm) that fits inside your cold baking dish and that is enough to cover the bottom and the sides (I use a 20-25 cm diameter cast iron dutch-oven when making a large loaf) or use no baking paper at all when making 6 smaller buns or rolls that are easy to handle in smaller baking dishes  (my mini cast iron dutch-ovens measure 10 cm in diameter) or you can use any other oven-proof dishes with a cover
  • place the large cast iron dutch-oven or casserole (with its cover) that or the 6 smaller ones that measure (or any other oven-proof dishes with a cover) in the oven and preheat for 30-35 minutes with the rack in the middle at 230°C
  • measure out the ingredients and combine and mix the dry ingredients together in one large bowl and pour the buttermilk/kefir/fermented milk (with or without the egg and olive oil) in another smaller bowl and let everything sit at room temperature for 30 minutes as the oven and the dutch-oven(s) are preheating
  • 2-3 minutes before removing the very hot baking dish(es) and cover(s) from the oven, mix the dry ingredients with the kefir or buttermilk, stir briefly until combined (for a bread with a rustic look) or stir longer until much smoother (for a smoother looking bread)
  • for a large loaf of bread : place the soft mixed dough on the baking paper (initially pressed or shaped inside a large bowl similar in size to the baking dish), carefully remove the very hot baking dish from the oven, lower the dough that is on the baking paper inside the hot dutch-oven, cover with the very hot lid and bake for 30-35 minutes covered, then 5 minutes uncovered, then carefully remove the bread from the baking dish and place the loaf of bread on a rack to cool down for 30 minutes
  • for smaller buns (like dinner rolls and hamburger buns) : separate the dough into 6 smaller clumps/mounds weighing about 85 grams each (or the size of a clmentine) sprinkle the 6 small shaping bowls with flour, dump the smaller dough mounds directly inside, sprinkle with more flour (and optional seeds) on top and roll each ball around until completely covered with flour and no longer sticky and firmer, then proceed as usual by transferring the balls of dough to the 6 preheated smaller cast iron dutch-ovens (but without the baking paper and sprinkled with some cornmeal or semolina on the bottom before transferring the dough balls) and bake covered for 20 minutes only, then 2-3 minutes uncovered, then remove from the oven and place the buns on a rack to cool down for about 20 minutes before serving whole or sliced lengthwise in two ...