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Irish Soda Bread

Posted by Denise on March 17, 2015

Irish Soda Bread 1

Firm but with a tender crumb, this bread is perfect warm with butter and honey.

This recipe for Irish soda bread creates a loaf that has the slightly sweet, nutty flavor of whole wheat makes firm loaf, but it has a surprisingly light and tender texture. It’s positively addictive. We ate it warm with butter melted into it, then cooled with a pool of golden honey drizzled on top. Yummy!

Irish soda bread gets its name from the way it’s leavened. Instead of using yeast to create the lift for the bread, Irish soda bread uses bicarbonate of soda, also known as baking soda, as the main leavening agent. Our recipe also uses cream of tartar to assist the baking soda in getting a rise out of the ingredients. Buttermilk provides the acidic boost for the chemical reaction. This reaction helps to give the bread its signature flavor.

It seems that every household in Ireland has its own recipe for soda bread. We found this recipe in The Best Ever Book of Bread cookbook, and really enjoy making and eating it. One of the great things about Irish soda bread is that everything gets mixed up together and then the loaf is formed and baked right away…no waiting for it to rise. The oven helps make it rise as it bakes. Simple and quick to make, so you can be enjoying a fresh loaf within about an hour. Enjoy!


Irish Soda Bread



Irish soda bread ingredients

Irish Soda Bread ingredients.



Makes 1 round loaf




cups unbleached all-purpose flour


cups whole wheat flour plus extra for dusting loaf before baking


teaspoon salt


teaspoons baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)


teaspoons cream of tartar


tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces


teaspoon granulated sugar

1 ½ to 1 ¾  

cups buttermilk



1.  Preheat the oven to 375o F and adjust oven shelves so one is in the lower middle position. Lightly grease or place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet. 

2.  Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Add the baking soda and the cream of tartar to the bowl with the flour and mix it in. Put the butter pieces in the bowl and gently rub the butter into the flour mixture to make a course crumbly mixture. Add the sugar and stir it in well so that its evenly distributed throughout the dough.


 irish soda bread flour and salt irish soda bread baking soda

butter cut into pieces


3.   Pour the butter milk into the flour mixture, starting with 1 ½ cups. It should make a sort of soft, sticky dough. If the dough is too dry, add up to another ¼ cup of buttermilk. Do not overmix or the loaf will be tough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape it into a round.


 Irish soda bread adding buttermilk


4.   Place the loaf on the prepared baking sheet. Using a sharp knife, score a cross into the top of the loaf, making it at least ¼” or a little deeper.  Lightly dust the top of the loaf with a little of the whole wheat flour.

 Irish soda bread forming loaf

Irish soda bread cutting cross in top


5.   Put the baking sheet with the loaf on it on the lower middle rack. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the top is golden brown. A final way to tell if the loaf is done is to take it out of the oven, and using a hot mitt, tap the bottom of the loaf lightly. It should sound hollow if its done. When done, take the loaf from the oven and allow to cool for several minutes. Best served warm, but good cold, too. It will last for approximately 3 days if kept in an airtight bag.  It can also be frozen for up to 3 months in an airtight container. Allow to thaw on the counter.

Irish soda bread out of oven

  Irish soda bread cut


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