Traditional Irish Soda Bread

In the wake of the recent post of my Americanized version of this conventional soda bread, I wanted to add the traditional recipe for comparison’s sake. This recipe makes a fairly dense, rustic loaf of Irish-inspired, yeast-free bread that is full of flavor and extremely quick and easy!  Unlike my Americanized version, this bread is not sweet and fruit free. It is crusty and rough on the outside and chewy on the inside. Yummy hot or warm with lots of butter! Perfect served with soups, stews and salads

**How can the bread rise with no yeast? The bread rises due to the reaction of the acid of the buttermilk and baking soda. **

**The cross on the soda bread has several explanations. Legend has it that folks did it to “let the devil out” while it’s baking for good luck, and others say that it made it easy to divide into 4 pieces. It was also a symbol for a cross during Christian holidays. ***

Regardless of myth, I find that it helps the bread rise higher and to bake thoroughly. 



4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 – 1 1/2 cup buttermilk

*No buttermilk? Simply add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to whole milk


Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Brush a baking sheet with melted butter or spray with non-stick spray. I use a Silpat baking sheet.

Combine dry ingredients in a deep bowl or mixer with dough paddle—mix to combine. Gradually stir in 1 cup buttermilk, beating constantly, until dough is firm enough to be gathered into a ball. If dough crumbles, add up to 1/2 cup more buttermilk, 1 tbsp at a time, until it holds together.

Place on a lightly floured board and pat into an 8-inch flattened round loaf.

Place loaf on baking sheet and slash a 1/2-inch deep “X” into the top of the dough with a small, sharp knife.

Bake at 425 degrees F for about 45 minutes, or until the top is golden.

Serve hot, warm or at room temperature. Store wrapped in a plastic or paper bag. The crust will soften a bit if stored in plastic.

Fun Fact:

“Oldest published Irish Soda Bread recipe found to date NOV 1836 Farmer’s Magazine (London) p.328 referencing Irish newspaper in County Down.

A correspondent of the Newry Telegraph gives the following receipt for making ” soda bread,” stating that “there is no bread to be had equal to it for invigorating the body, promoting digestion, strengthening the stomach, and improving the state of the bowels.” He says, “put a pound and a half of good wheaten meal into a large bowl, mix with it two teaspoonfuls of finely-powdered salt, then take a large teaspoonful of super-carbonate of soda,% dissolve it in half a teacupful of cold water, and add it to the meal; rub up all intimately together, then pour into the bowl as much very sour buttermilk as will make the whole into soft dough (it should be as soft as could possibly be handled, and the softer the better,) form it into a cake of about an inch thickness, and put it into a flat Dutch oven or frying-pan, with some metallic cover, such as an oven-lid or griddle, apply a moderate heat underneath for twenty minutes, then lay some clear live coals upon the lid, and keep it so for half an hour longer (the under heat being allowed to fall off gradually for the last fifteen minutes,) taking off the cover occasionally to see that it does not burn.”


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