How to make the best: black treacle soda bread


Alex Rushmer bakes a rich, traditional bread to comfort and sustain you

I tried to take this off the menu, I really did. But fear of a full-scale riot prevented me from doing so. Bread is the best way to start a meal and this sweet and sticky loaf has the added benefit of not needing to rise. It was created by one of the first chefs who ever came through the kitchen at The Hole in the Wall and the recipe hasn’t changed since. 


450g strong white bread flour

One and a half pinches of salt

One and a half pinches of bicarbonate of soda

50ml rapeseed oil or melted butter

125g black treacle

300ml milk

Juice of half a lemon

Extra flour for dusting


To garnish: pumpkin seeds and pumpkin oil (and plenty of toast)


Preheat the oven to 175°C.

Combine the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the oil or butter and rub in to combine, as if you are making pastry. 

Add the black treacle and treat the same way – you should end up with a mixture that resembles damp sand. Add the lemon juice to the vinegar to split it and add that to the bread mixture. Use a wooden spoon or dough scraper to combine. The mixture will be very wet and sticky: the aim is to add as little additional flour as possible to create a workable dough. 

Dust a clean worktop with flour and pour out the bread dough. Dust the top of the dough and work it into the mix (a dough scraper is extremely useful here). Keep adding a little flour at a time until the mixture is a workable dough. 

Shape into a long loaf and transfer to a baking sheet. 

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 95°C.

Leave to cool and eat with plenty of butter.