WARRINGTON Guardian food and drink columnist Jen Perry will be hosting a virtual baking class from home on Friday.

The founder of mobile afternoon tea company, Room Forty, wants to help people adapt to their new temporary life in self isolation.

So the former Lymm High student will be making soda bread from scratch on Facebook Live via the Guardian's community page – 'Warrington coronavirus latest news' – on Friday from 12pm.

The ingredients and method for the recipe are below for anyone that wants to take part or make it in their own time.

And over the next few weeks Jen will be supplying further inspiration, advice and recipes to make the most of the ingredients at the back of your cupboard.

She said: "I can’t predict what is going to happen over the next few weeks during the virus pandemic.

"The bakeries are still baking so provided people aren’t greedy, bread will be on the shop shelves as normal. But a period of self-isolation might afford that opportunity to learn a new skill.

"We’d encourage you to bake. Its therapeutic benefits are well known. It is a real stress reliever and great to do with the kids if you are all cooped up together.

Jen has chosen soda bread as it is an 'easy and quick yeast-free loaf that uses any flour you have available'.

She added: "I’ve seen people panicking in the shops and online that they can’t get yeast and so can’t make bread. But you can, you don’t need yeast to make a loaf.

"Here’s our guide as to how to make a quick bread or soda bread. It is so easy to make and delicious. And you can use any flour."

Warrington Guardian:


• 500g flour (this doesn’t have to be bread flour, you can use any but if you use self-raising flour add one tsp of extra baking powder to the mix )

• 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (if you haven’t any bicarb, use 4 tsp of baking powder – see the note above if you are using self raising flour just add 1 tsp extra baking powder)

• 1 tsp table salt

• 1 tbsp sugar (it can be any sugar but dark muscovado, or preferably treacle give the loaf a richer taste)

• 40g soft butter (we prefer to use 40ml of rapeseed oil. It’s healthier and you can just pour it in to the mix)

• 300ml to 340ml of either plain yoghurt (the value stuff is fine), milk with an added tsp of lemon juice to sour it or buttermilk.


• A baking sheet

• Large mixing bowl

• Weighing scales


Set your oven to 200 degrees.

Into the mixing bowl weigh in your flour and chuck in your salt. Carefully measure in your bicarbonate of soda or baking powder (I scrape it exactly to the top of the measuring spoon using a knife blade) and drop it into the bowl.

Give the ingredients a rub through to mix them together.

Then add in your sugar, if you decide to use treacle (and it does give a superior colour and taste so is worth it), first smear your measuring spoon with vegetable oil before you plunge it in to the treacle as it will just drop off the spoon leaving it (fairly) clear.

Then take a butter knife and swirl it through the dry ingredients in the bowl to mix it in.

Add in your soft butter or rapeseed oil. Again, swirl and cut it through the mix. Now get your hands into the bowl and rub in the butter/oil and sugar/treacle.

At this stage, if you like, you could chuck in up to three tablespoons of seeds – poppy seeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds go nicely.

You’ll need to work fairly quickly now. Check your oven is hot enough and pour a bowl of clean warm water ready for your hands. Dust some flour onto your baking sheet.

Take your liquid – yoghurt or milk and lemon juice or buttermilk – and pour it in to the mix and stir it in quickly with a butter knife.

When you have stirred it in as much as you can you’ll need to get your hands in and finish it off. I haven’t specified a liquid amount as you’ll need enough to make it come together.

It will be a sticky mess which you’ll need to shape into a rough ball and pace on the baking sheet.

Now plunge your hands into your bowl of water to wash off sticky the mix. While your hands are still slightly wet shape the ball some more (the water makes it easier). Dust the top with some flour then grab a knife and give the dough a cross cut across the top.

Quickly put the sheet and dough into the centre of the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes.

And that’s it. Stick the kettle on and inhale the heavenly baking aroma.

Check it after 30 minutes – oven gloves on, of course – it should sound hollow or drum like on the bottom and, pressing lightly into the cross cuts these should feel firm and not soft. If the ‘cross’ is still a bit soft stick it back into the oven again for another five minutes.

Put it on a cooling rack and leave it to cool. Unlike yeasted bread, soda bread is delicious slightly warm, with butter and will always look rustic and authentic.

It is best eaten fresh. It won’t keep much longer than a day but you can slice it or break it into chunks and it freezes well too.


If you prefer, you can make this in a bread tin which will give you a more controlled shape and better ability to slice it (great for when you want to freeze it or use it for sandwiches).

Prepare as before. Take a large bread tin and grease the sides with butter, pack the dough in, then take a wooden or silicone spatula to pack the dough into a loaf shape pressing the edges in.

Flour the top, then taking a wet sharp knife cut the dough length wise down to the base Then tease out the cut to make a V shaped channel along the length of the dough and put the loaf in the oven as before.