Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Recipe: Traditional Irish Brown Soda Bread

A Traditional Irish Soda Bread recipe is steeped in Irish heritage with the first known recipe for Traditional Irish Soda Bread dating back to 1836, appearing in the Newry Telegraph. Forward on hundreds of years later and the recipe is still very much alive steeped in Irish tradition. One of my earliest baking recipes is of my grandmother baking a loaf of traditional brown soda in her country kitchen and topping it off with a generous coating of butter and homemade jam.

Traditional Irish Soda bread is perfect alongside a bowl of comforting soup in winter, or topped with some good quality smoked salmon as a little canapé. The quality of the buttermilk you use will make a great difference to your loaf so try to source some artisan buttermilk in your local Farmers' Market or quality food store. It does take a bit of practice to get a loaf of soda bread right but once you do, you'll be baking a batch time and time again. The best tip for baking a loaf of Irish Soda Bread is not to over work the dough as it'll give your bread a tough and heavy finish. Don't forget to make a cross in the centre of the dough before baking to let the fairies out (if you keep them in they'll flatten your bread!)

Shopping List

- 300g Wholemeal Flour
- 300g Cream Flour
- 25g Unsalted Country Butter
- 1 Level Tsp Bread Soda
- 1 Level Tsp Salt
- 425ml-550ml Buttermilk


1. Preheat the oven to 230°C Gas Mark 8. Sieve the plain white flour, bread soda, and salt into wide deep bowl. Add in the wholemeal flour and rub in the butter. Make a well in the centre and gently pour in the two thirds of the buttermilk mixing to form a dough with one hand. Slowly add in the remainder of the buttermilk but ensure that your mixture is soft but not sticky.

2. Shape the dough into a round 2 inches thick and turn onto a floured baking tray. Make a deep cross in the top of the dough about two-thirds of the way through. With the tip of a sharp knife, stab each of the quarters of the dough to let the fairies out!

3. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn down the heat to 200°C, Gas Mark 6. Bake for a further 20 minutes, before turning the bread over for a further 10 minutes until golden brown.

4. The bread is done when you tap the back of the loaf and it sounds hollow. Allow to cool on a wire rack before slicing and serving with a generous dollop of butter and jam.


- A real tell tale sign that there is too much bread soda in the mix is if the inside of your bread is slightly green in appearance. Ensure you are using a level teaspoon of bread soda.

- Timings vary from oven to oven, the soda bread should be golden brown in colour and hallow when tapped with your knuckle.

- The mixture should not be sloppy, it should be nice and firm. Do not over work your dough as it will make your bread too tough. Remember, like with scones, light hands give a light finish.

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Photography: Jakub Walutek Photography