Irish soda bread

3 easy, yeast-free bread recipes that use just 3 ingredients each

Posted by for Recipes

From Irish soda bread to soft sourdough rolls, these no-yeast recipes are refreshingly simple to make at home. Why not try one over the bank holiday weekend?

There’s one item that’s been at the top of our wish lists for weeks now. One item so elusive that it’s sold out in shops across the country, shelves slowly gathering dust as supplies are snapped up in bulk. It’s the one item we’d swap our last Rolo to secure.

We can’t quite believe we’re saying this, but that item is… yeast.

The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent UK lockdown have sparked an unprecedented demand for yeast, as people take to their kitchens to bake their own bread rather than queuing for hours to buy a readymade loaf. But while other items that were in high demand just a few weeks ago – think loo roll, pasta and tins of beans – have now returned to supermarket shelves, humble yeast is still infuriatingly hard to get hold of.

Can’t find a packet of yeast for love nor money? Below, baker and food writer Sarah Rainey shares three delicious bread recipes that require no yeast at all, and can be whipped up with kitchen staples such as flour, sugar and beer. Even better, each loaf needs just three ingredients, so you can (hopefully) skip the supermarket queue and get started right away.

Read on for the recipes – and happy baking!

Irish soda bread recipe

Yeastless soda bread
Easy bread recipes: no-yeast soda bread

Warming, fluffy and delicious, this soda bread reminds me of my childhood. No Ulster fry was ever complete without a wedge on the side, loaded with melting butter. You can eat it for breakfast, lunch or dinner – and pretty much every time in between.

Serves 8-10


  • 450g self-raising flour
  • 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 300ml buttermilk (or, to make your own, use 285ml normal milk, add 1 tablespoon lemon juice and whisk thoroughly)


Preheat the oven to 240°C/220°C fan.

Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl. Add the buttermilk, and mix. Try to get rid of the lumps without overworking the mixture, which will stop the bread from rising properly in the oven.

Once it comes together into a dough, stick your hands into the bowl and turn it out on to a floured surface. Roll the dough over a couple of times, then shape it into a round and gently flatten until it’s about 5cm thick.

Transfer to a lightly greased baking tray and, using a serrated knife, mark a large cross on the top as if to divide the loaf into four quarters. The cut should go around 0.5cm deep into the loaf.

Place in the hot oven for the first 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 190°C/170°C fan for a further 20 minutes. Stick a skewer into the centre of the loaf to check it is cooked through. If it comes out sticky, give the bread another 5 minutes until the skewer is clean.

Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Slice when cool, and serve with butter, cheese or jam.

Bubbly beer bread recipe

No-yeast beer bread
Easy bread recipes: no-yeast beer bread

This is a very hands-on dough, so be ready to roll your sleeves up and dig right on in. It’s rich, hoppy and malty, and goes down a treat with a slab of butter and a hearty stew on a chilly day.

You’ll need a standard loaf tin (22cm x 12cm x 7cm) – or you can bake it free-form on a baking sheet.

If you can’t get your hands on a dark beer, pale ale will do just fine – but the flavour will be a little sharper and less malty. You can even use a can of lemonade for a slightly sweet, slightly salted loaf that goes well with cheese.

Serves 8-10


  • 380g self-raising flour, plus a pinch for dusting
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 x 330ml can or bottle of dark beer


Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan, and grease and line the loaf tin.

Sift the flour into a mixing bowl, and add the sugar followed by the beer. Pour the beer in gradually so it doesn’t froth too much. Mix everything together using a wooden spoon, and transfer the dough to the tin.

If you’d prefer to bake it free-form, make a ‘bowl’ out of circular layers of aluminium foil and place the dough inside this on a flat baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper. It is a very sloppy dough and can’t support itself, so make sure there are no gaps for it to seep out.

Dust the top with a little flour before putting it in the oven. Bake the loaf for 45 to 50 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the crust on top turns golden (and you can stick a skewer down the centre of the loaf to check the inside is cooked through).

Turn out on to a wire rack to cool.

Cheat’s sourdough rolls recipe

These little puffs of air are the definition of store-cupboard baking. I guarantee you’ll have all the ingredients easily to hand – and you can rustle them up in under half an hour. I like to eat mine hot, with butter, on the side of a steaming bowl of tomato soup.

Makes 12 rolls


240g self-raising flour

200ml semi-skimmed milk

5 tablespoons mayonnaise


Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan. Grease two baking sheets and line with greaseproof paper.

Sift the flour into a bowl and slowly add the milk, stirring constantly. Add the mayonnaise and mix vigorously to get rid of any lumps.

The batter should be thick but runny, and when you lift your spoon out, you should be able to see elastic threads forming – this is the raising agent in the flour starting to get to work.

Drop heaped dessert spoons of the mixture on to the baking sheets, spacing them 4–5cm apart. Use the spoon to try to round off the edges and neaten the tops.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until they’ve risen and are just starting to go brown on top. Swap the trays halfway through the cooking time to ensure they’re evenly cooked. Don’t worry if the rolls look a little knobbly and misshapen – this all add to the rustic look.

Cool on a wire rack before serving. The rolls should keep for up to 4 days in an airtight tin – and you can even freeze them; just remember to use within 1 month.

Six Minute Showstoppers by Sarah Rainey (£14.99, Michael Joseph) is out 14 May. Three Ingredient Baking (£12.99, Michael Joseph) is out now

This feature was originally published on 17 April 2020

Main image: Getty. Other photography: Alistair Richardson 

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Sarah Biddlecombe

Sarah Biddlecombe is an award-winning journalist and Digital Commissioning Editor at Stylist. Follow her on Twitter