Spanish soda bread with Prosciutto, Manchego and balsamic onions

Spanish Soda Bread

This is a delightfully filling bread that is packed full of rich bold flavours and makes a light meal in itself. If you can’t source Manchego cheese, substitute it for a good quality cheddar instead and it’ll be equally delicious. This is also super easy to make and because it’s a soda bread, doesn’t require the usual kneading and rising associated with traditional bread. Bonus!


2 tbsp olive oil
1 large red onion, finely sliced
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1½ tbsp soft brown sugar
450g plain white flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp table salt
30g cold unsalted butter, diced
80g prosciutto, torn
200g Manchego cheese, diced
small handful basil leaves, torn into small pieces
300ml buttermilk
1 tbsp butter, melted


Preheat the oven to 200C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the red onions and stir. Reduce the heat, cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes. Add the vinegar and sugar, increase the heat slightly, and cook, uncovered, for a further 5 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.

Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl. Using your fingertips, rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the cooked onions, a small handful of cheese and a small amount of prosciutto for the topping. Add the remaining onions, prosciutto and cheese to the flour mixture. Add the basil and toss to incorporate.

In a jug mix the buttermilk with 25ml water. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and add three-quarters of the thinned buttermilk. Mix using a lightly floured hand or a table knife until it comes together into a rough but soft and sticky dough. Add a little more thinned buttermilk if the dough feels dry and won’t come together.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, roughly shape and transfer to the prepared baking trays. Flatten the loaf to about 4cm. Dust with a little flour and score the top using a sharp knife. Cover with the reserved onions, prosciutto and cheese.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden-brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the base. Cover the top with foil if it’s starting to brown too much. Transfer to a wire rack, brush liberally with melted butter and allow to cool before eating.

Makes 1 large loaf

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