We bake this bread every day at the cookery school, and it is very quick and simple to make at home too. This is the basic recipe but there are so many sweet and savoury variations that you can try – chocolate, raisins, cinnamon, cubes of crispy bacon, cheese, herbs . . . the possibilities are endless. The deep cross in the loaf (see step 3) is supposed to let out the fairies – so that the bread won’t be jinxed by evil spirits! In reality, of course, it’s just to allow the heat to penetrate the loaf as it’s cooking. Makes 1 loaf.
White soda scones: Make the dough as above but flattened into a round approximately 2.5cm (1in) deep. Cut into scones and cook for 15–20 minutes at 230°C (450°F), Gas mark 8.
White soda bread or scones with herbs: Add 2–3 tablespoons freshly chopped herbs – such as rosemary, sage, thyme, chives, parsley or lemon balm – to the dry ingredients, and make as above.
Spotted dog: Add 100g (31/2oz) sultanas, raisins or currants, or a mixture of all three, to the dry ingredients, and make as above.