Potato and rosemary soda focaccia bread


If, like me, you’re a bit rubbish at making yeasted bread (I blame our superb local bakehouses – Forge, Perfectionery and Tower of Bagel – for setting the bar way too high), why not do a homemade soda bread?  Well, this one is a marriage of Irish soda bread and Italian focaccia. With potatoes from the veg box. Yum. Recipe by Rachel Allen.  I reckon a beetroot version would be delicious too.

Can’t find buttermilk easily, or you’re vegan? I’ve had success with soda bread using soya milk mixed with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.


  • 250g potatoes, scrubbed, skins left on, sliced 3mm (1/8in) thick
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves pulled off the stalks
  • 1 tsp salt
  • good twist of black pepper
  • 450g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 level tsp bread soda or bicarb soda
  • 400ml buttermilk
  • 75g finely grated cheese, such as cheddar or gruyère


  1. Preheat oven to 230°C (450°F), Gas 8.
  2. Place a large saucepan of water on to boil. When it boils, add the potato slices and bring back up to boil on a high heat. Boil the potatoes for just 1 minute. Drain carefully, so as not to break them up.
  3. Place the potatoes in a large bowl or on a tray. Drizzle with 4 tbsp of the olive oil, the rosemary, salt and pepper. Mix gently, then set aside.
  4. Sift the flour, salt and soda into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in all the buttermilk. Using your hand outstretched like a claw, go around the sides of the bowl to bring the flour and liquid together. Don't knead it or it will be tough. Stop mixing once it all comes together.
  5. Use 2 tbsp of olive oil to grease a baking tray, or a large Swiss roll tin.
  6. Lightly flour the worktop. Pat or roll out the dough on the worktop to a piece larger than an A4 sheet of paper. Transfer to the prepared tray and arrange the potatoes, rosemary and oil on top. Sprinkle with the cheese and bake for 25-35 mins till golden and cooked in the centre.
  7. Take out of the oven, then drizzle with a little more olive oil and allow to sit on the baking tray for 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.