Irish soda bread

Soda bread

Irish soda bread

Jane Mason
Soda bread is a classic Irish bread.  This simple recipe for soda bread is ready in 30 minutes and is perfect for when you do not have a lot of time, when you have run out of bread or when unexpected guests show up for lunch!  
Delicious and satisfying, it compliments any meal with its simple elegance.
The keys to making delicious soda bread are simple. Use full-fat milk, don't knead the dough, keep a bowl of water handy, and get your oven up to temperature before you do anything else.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Breakfast, Main Course, Salad, Soup
Cuisine Irish
Servings 1 Loaf


  • bowls, scale, baking tray, non stick parchment, scraper


  • 650 grams Whole wheat or whole spelt flour You can also use a mixture of white and whole wheat flour if you like a slighly lighter loaf.
  • 600 grams Sour milk or yoghurt or keffir or butter milk
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Baking soda
  • 1 handful optional extras Raisins, nuts, raisins, chocolate bits, grated orange/lemon peel, mixed, candied peel, millet, dried cherries or cranberries…whatever you like


  • Preheat the oven to 230 degrees C. Prepare a baking tray by lining it with non stick parchment paper.
  • Measure the flour into a big bowl. Sprinkle in the salt and, using a tiny sieve, sieve in the bicarbonate of soda so that it does not "ball up" in the dough. Use a big spoon to mix the dry ingredients together well.
  • Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the sour milk (or equivalent). if you want to add raisins, or cheese or anything else, add it now.
  • Using a spoon or a plastic scraper (or both) mix the ingredients together lightly but thoroughly. At first the mixture seems dry but you will see as you mix that it is really quite sticky. You may have to get your hands into the dough to get all the flour incorporated.
  • Wet your hands with water and pick up the dough and shape it into a ball.
  • Place the ball on a your baking tray and, with a wet hand, gently flatten the ball into a disc about 1.5 inches thick.
  • Using a wet knife or a wet scraper, cut a deep cross in the dough – almost all the way through the dough to the bottom – and gently open the cuts up a wee bit.
  • Put the dough immediately into the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Then, turn the oven down to 200 degrees C and bake it for a further 15-20 minutes. You don't want it dry but you do want it cooked so give it a little prod where the cuts separate the four quarters. If it is still squashy and clearly unbaked put it back for another 3-4 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and then let it cool completely on a wire rack. Soda bread is best eaten the day it is baked.



The keys to making great soda bread are simple
  1. Use a full fat “sour milk” product rather than just plain milk. The acidity of the sour milk product reacts chemically with the alkalai of the bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) and helps the bread rise better, making it lighter. The sour milk product also adds flavour. You can use plain old milk that has gone off or you can use buttermilk, pouring yoghurt or keffir. If you use regular yoghurt, mix it half and half with milk because it is usually a wee bit too thick on its own.
  2. Don’t knead your soda bread. Just get all of the ingredients together in the bowl and when you shape them into a ball do it as swiftly and lightly as possible.
  3. When you stick to your dough, do not add more flour. Keep a bowl of water handy to dip your hands into if you find the dough is too sticky to handle. Likewise, when you cut the cross in your dough, dip the knife or the scraper in the water so it glides through the dough rather than sticking to it.
  4. Before you begin to mix the dough together, turn the oven on to 230 degrees centigrade.
Keyword 5 ingredients or fewer, quick bread

Soda bread is very easy to make – there is a recipe for it in All You Knead Is Bread – and because I baked some today I thought I would repeat that recipe here.  Today, for a little variation, I popped in a handful of chia seeds and some millet.

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