Not all breads need a sourdough starter or commercial yeast. Quick breads—a broad baking category that includes cakes, cookies, and brownies—are leavened with baking soda or baking powder, which react to an acidic ingredient to give the dough its rapid rise.

Soda breads use the reaction between acidic buttermilk and baking soda to make a tender, densely crumbed loaf. The most famous soda breads come from Ireland, where traditional loaves are a bit sweet and often studded with raisins or other dried fruits. Our version veers savory with cheese and scallions to make a loaf that is very similar to a cheddar biscuit.


Cheddar and Scallion Soda Bread

Yield: One 8-inch (2-pound) loaf
Photo: Lauren V. Allen


4 cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons (½ stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup sliced scallions
1¾ cups buttermilk
1 large egg



Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and sugar Stir to evenly mix dry ingredients. Add the butter and use a pastry cutter or your hands to rub the butter into the flour. You’re looking to separate the butter into smaller and smaller pieces, until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.


Stir in the scallions and cheddar cheese until evenly mixed.


In a small bowl, whisk the egg into the buttermilk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir until combined. Using your hands, knead the dough until all of the buttermilk has been incorporated, and there are no pockets of dry flour. (This won’t take long, only about 30 seconds. Be careful not to overwork your dough.)


Transfer the dough to a flat, lightly floured work surface, and shape it into round loaf. (Your dough will be shaggy, similar to a biscuit dough, but that’s okay! No need to make it perfectly smooth.)


Transfer the dough to a lightly greased No.8 Dutch oven. Using the tip of a knife, score an X on top of the loaf.


Bake the bread, uncovered, for 50 to 55 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. (The top, center of the bread can often take the longest to cook. If your loaf begins browning too much before it cooks through, cover the Dutch oven.)


Remove the Dutch oven and let cool for 15 minutes. Transfer the bread to a wire rack, then slice and serve warm or at room temperature.