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Why everyone should make soda bread in a baked bean can

You won’t regret mastering this simple recipe.

Soda bread
Traditional Irish soda bread can be made using empty cans of baked beans (Laura Edwards/PA)

As a born and bred Dubliner, Anna Haugh knows a thing or two about how to make soda bread.

The chef and restaurateur remembers her aunt Sadie baking it fresh every week during her childhood, measuring the ingredients with her hands – never using scales.

If the idea of baking bread by eye fills you with fear, Haugh has “taken my talented aunty’s guesswork out of baking” with a recipe from her new cookbook: “If you follow it, you are sure to be sinking your teeth into delicious homemade bread without any trouble.”

She says: “Traditional Irish soda bread was literally made from just buttermilk, salt, flour and bicarbonate of soda, and was best eaten on the day it was baked.

“I’ve brought the recipe up to date and added butter, sugar and egg, which makes the crumb softer and allows it to stay fresh for up to three days, so there’s less chance that any of it will go to waste.”

Her advice is to keep it in the fridge, so it’ll last longer and be perfect for toast.

Even better, this ingenious recipe uses something you’ll likely have lying around the house – tins of baked beans.

Anna Haugh
(Laura Edwards/PA)

Still not convinced you should try this recipe yourself? Let Haugh explain what it really means to her.

“When my mother fed us homemade bread, she thought she was doing what my grandmother did, feeding and nourishing her children,” she says.

“What she didn’t realise is that she gave me warm, happy memories of eating and this is something I hope to create for my son.”

Soda bread


(Makes 1 x 500g loaf, or 2 baked bean can-sized loaves, or enough for 4 generously)

  • 30g salted butter, plus more for the cans or tin

  • 300g coarse wholemeal flour, plus more for the cans or tin

  • ½tsp bicarbonate of soda

  • 1tsp baking powder

  • 25g demerara sugar

  • 1tsp fine sea salt

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

  • 300g buttermilk


1. Preheat your oven to 200°C fan. Butter and flour two old baked bean cans, or a 500 gram loaf tin. It’s important to have your oven preheated and your cans or tin prepared before starting the recipe, as once the dough is mixed it is best baked immediately.

2. Melt the 30 grams of butter and leave it to cool slightly.

3. Put all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix so they are evenly dispersed. Make a well in the centre, then add the cooled melted butter to the well with the egg and buttermilk and mix well and quickly with a spoon. Your mix should be wet and drop off the spoon.

4. Working fast, divide the dough between the prepared cans or tin. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 160°C fan and cook for a further 35 minutes.

5. Take the bread out of the cans or tin and let cool. Once cool, if you wrap it in clingfilm it will stay fresh for longer. This is delicious just with butter, or wonderful with smoked salmon.

Cooking With Anna: Modern Home Cooking With Irish Heart by Anna Haugh is published by Bloomsbury, priced £26. Photography by Laura Edwards. Available now.


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