Quick, simple and delicious, this easy recipe for Traditional Irish Soda Bread takes just 40 minutes from start to finish, with only 10 minutes prep time, and no kneading or proving required!
Super easy bread!
Soda bread is my favourite kind of bread because it is so quick and easy to make! Traditional Irish Soda Bread takes just 40 minutes to make from start to finish – and only 10 minutes of that is prep time. (5 minutes, to be honest, if you get your skates on!) Better still, soda bread only needs 5 basic ingredients and requires no kneading or proving time. You just mix the ingredients together, shape it and put it in the oven. 30 minutes later, you have delicious homemade bread!
A very simple recipe
One of the things I love about soda bread is how easy the recipe is – it’s the kind of recipe you can learn off by heart it’s so simple!
All you need to do is mix together flour, salt and baking soda, then stir in buttermilk. Next, bring the dough together into a ball and place on a baking tray. Flatten the ball a little and then cut a deep cross into it, then bake in a pre-heated oven for 30-35 minutes until cooked all the way through and golden on top. Easy peasy!
Easy to adapt
Once you have the basic recipe, there are so many delicious ways to adapt this Traditional Irish Soda Bread.
You can use different flours – most flours work in this recipe (but NOT self-raising or bread flour – see below). And you can have some fun adding ‘extras’ to the recipe, such as cheese, seeds, nuts, oats and dried fruit. You can even use this recipe to make soda bread rolls, instead of one large loaf!
Here are a few of my favourite variations on this traditional recipe:
No buttermilk? Make ‘fake’ buttermilk!
Traditionally, soda bread is made using buttermilk. But sometimes buttermilk can be hard to find.
If you can’t find buttermilk, I have a simple trick to make ‘fake’ buttermilk. Simply combine 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar and 200 ml milk (regular or plant-based). Use this in place of the buttermilk in the recipe below.
This is also a great hack if you are watching the pennies (buttermilk is usually more expensive than regular milk + vinegar), or if you need this to be vegan (simply use plant-based milk).
It’s also a super useful trick if you just want to make soda bread on a whim. Most of us have milk, vinegar, flour, salt and baking soda in our kitchens all the time, but not may of us have buttermilk in our fridges ‘just in case’.
The flavour of the soda bread using the vinegar + milk / faked version of buttermilk is not quite the same as using the traditional buttermilk – but it’s a very close approximation!
(You can also use white wine vinegar or lemon juice, in place of apple cider vinegar if you prefer.)
Use the correct flour!
One big mistake people make with soda bread is using the wrong flour. Soda bread should be made with plain flour NOT self-raising flour or bread flour. Using self-raising or bread flour will not give you a good result.
This recipe is, however, incredibly flexible, I have successfully tried many kinds plain flours, including white flour, wholemeal flour, granary flour, rye flour, spelt flour… as well as many combinations of these!
Can you use baking powder instead of baking soda?
No! It won’t work. You need to use baking soda (AKA bicarbonate of soda). It is the reaction between the acid in the buttermilk and the baking soda that helps the soda bread to rise.
Why do you need to cut a big cross in soda bread?
Because soda bread cooks quickly, if you don’t cut the big cross, you are likely to find the outside of the soda bread is cooked before the middle of the soda bread. Cutting a deep cross in the middle of the soda bread helps the heat to penetrate right to the centre of the bread really fast, so it cooks through properly.
So be brave and cut a really deep, clean cross – it should go almost to the bottom of the dough!
(Some people also do this for superstitious reasons, as they believe the cross in the top of the soda bread will let the fairies out and/or ward off evil and bring good luck.)
What to serve Traditional Irish Soda Bread?
Soda bread is delicious warm out of the oven, just as it is – or slathered with butter. It’s also wonderful with antipasti type foods, such as or cheese, olives and cold meats.
Alternatively, it is a brilliant accompaniment to soups and stews. Obviously it goes especially well with Traditional Irish Lamb Stew, but it also goes well with:
How long does Traditional Irish Soda Bread keep?
Soda bread does not keep especially long (mostly because it is so delicious!) – it is best eaten on the day you make it. The day after it tastes OK, but is usually starting to go a little stale. If you do have some left over the next day, I suggest you toast it – toasted soda bread is delicious!
Can you freeze Traditional Irish Soda Bread?
Absolutely! Soda bread freezes really well. Just make sure you freeze it on the day you bake it and that it is completely cool and well wrapped (wrapping should be airtight – e.g. a freezer bag) before putting it in the freezer. You can freeze it as a whole loaf or cut it into slices first. It will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost at room temperature and either eat it at room temperature or toast it.
If you like this recipe…
…you might also like:
Traditional Irish Soda Bread
- 150 g plain wholemeal flour (see Note 1)
- 200 g plain white flour (see Note 1)
- 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda (see Note 2)
- 285 ml buttermilk (see Note 3)
- Preheat your oven to 220C / 200C fan / gas mark 7 / 425F. Dust a non-stick baking tray with a little flour.
- In a large bowl, mix together thoroughly the two flours, salt and baking soda.
- Pour the buttermilk into the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
- Bring the dough together into a ball using your hands. The dough should just come together into a ball, but shouldn’t be wet and sloppy. (If it doesn’t all come together, add a splash of water. If it’s too wet and sloppy add a touch more flour.)
- Roll the dough into a ball and place on your prepared baking tray.
- Flatten the ball a little and then cut a deep cross into it. The cross should go almost to the base of the loaf – but not quite!
- Bake the loaf in your pre-heated oven for 30-35 minutes until cooked all the way through and golden on top.
- Ideally, serve warm – straight out of the oven!
- Be sure to use plain (all purpose) flour NOT bread flour or self-raising flour
- Be sure to use baking soda (which is the same as bicarbonate of soda) DO NOT use baking powder, which is a different thing entirely!
- If you cannot get hold of buttermilk you can make ‘fake’ buttermilk, using vinegar and milk instead. Simply combine 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar and 200 ml milk (regular or plant-based). Use this in place of the buttermilk in the recipe above.
- Suitable for freezing.
- Nutrition information is approximate and meant as a guideline only.
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