The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

ISO a tried and true recipe for Irish Soda Bread

BettyR's picture

ISO a tried and true recipe for Irish Soda Bread

I have tried to make Irish Soda Bread from recipes that I've found on the net and none of them have been any good. They have all been dry and fairly tasteless. I was wandering if anyone here has a good recipe that I might try before I give up on soda bread completely. I was thinking that maybe I would try replacing some of the flour in the recipe with almond flour and see if that didn't add a little flavor and moisture.


Any help would be greatly appreciated.

sphealey's picture

In his _Bread_, Hamelman has a formula for Irish soda bread that he brought back from the Irish bakery where he worked and was responsible for making several troughs[1] of dough per day.  However, you will also want to read his note on the general unavailability of Irish buttermilk in the US, which does affect things.


[1] Yes, you read "troughs" correctly!  Be sure to read the notes that go along with the formula.

BettyR's picture

I'm guessing this is a I don't have. I live in rural Texas, the closest town big enough to have a library is 70 miles away. Is this article anywhere on the internet that you know of? I did a google search for it and came up empty, but then I'm on dial-up so it will take some time to do a through search.

sphealey's picture

Well, King Arthur is always a good place to check.  Their test kitchen posts this recipe:

Hamelman recommends replacing 20% of the buttermilk (by weight) in an American-Irish soda bread recipe (such as this one) with heavy cream or yoghurt to try to simulate Irish buttermilk.

The King Arthur Bakers Circle forum has some discussions also:

I wasn't able to find anything with a quick search of Rose Levy's site

but there are probably some receipes in there somewhere too.


SylviaH's picture

If you are looking for a true Irish Soda bread it does not have almond flour...there's a lot of discussion on what goes in and what doesn't on irish soda bread.  If mixed carefully with a delft hand (iron fist, velvet glove) you will have a lovely moist tasting Irish soda bread.  I have a recipe with photos on my blog if you care to take a peek hope it helps.  Making good soda bread takes a little practice.


BettyR's picture

Thank you both...I'll take my time next week and read up on soda bread. I really appreciate the help.

rftsr's picture

Here's Cook's Illustrated's recipe...tested a zillion times...enjoy!


Classic Irish Soda Bread

Yields 1 loaf. Published March 1, 1997.

Fresh out of the oven, this bread is a great accompaniment to soups or stews, and leftovers make fine toast.

3 cups bleached all-purpose flour , plus more for work surface
1 cup cake flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 tablespoons softened + 1 tablespoon melted)
1 1/2 cups buttermilk


1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk flours, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt in large bowl. Work softened butter into dry ingredients with fork or fingertips until texture resembles coarse crumbs.

2. Add buttermilk and stir with a fork just until dough begins to come together. Turn out onto flour-coated work surface; knead until dough just becomes cohesive and bumpy, 12 to 14 turns. (Do not knead until dough is smooth, or bread will be tough.)

3. Pat dough into a round about 6 inches in diameter and 2 inches high; place on greased or parchment-lined baking sheet or in cast-iron pot, if using. Place the loaf on a cookie sheet and cut a cross shape into the top.

4. Bake until golden brown and a skewer inserted into center of loaf comes out clean or internal temperature reaches 180 degrees, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter; cool to room temperature, 30 to 40 minutes.


BettyR's picture

This sounds good...

BettyR's picture

I finally got around to making the soda bread tonight to go with a pot of potato was wonderful. Thank you all so much for your help.

LaurenO's picture
LaurenO  it has great recipes and talks about origin, etc also.  great site

BettyR's picture

I enjoyed reading that...:)

le boulonger86's picture
le boulonger86

You don't get much simpler than Soda Bread, my recipe for a small loaf.............................

125g T55 flour

125g Atta flour (Indian chappati flour) or wholemeal flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

65g plain yoghurt (half a 125g carton)

some milk

Put the flours in a bowl add the salt & baking soda, give it a good mix, add the yoghurt and a small glug of milk mix using a table knife add more milk as it comes together don't make it too wet now oil your hand and start mixing (DO NOT over mix like you would a yeast dough) you just want it to come together as a dry'ish ball, flour a baking tray and place your ball on the tray flatten it slightly , now you need to let the devil out, take a knife and cut a cross 3/4 through the ball place in a preheated 220°C -- 425°F oven for 30 Minutes then slide bread off tray onto oven rack and cook for 5 minutes more, remove from oven and allow to cool ............ cut a slice while it's still warm and spread plenty of  unsalted BUTTER (Please NO yellow axle grease from a tub) and enjoy ..............................

The next stage........................

You can now add Pepper as well as salt, garlic granules, grated or little cubes of cheese, chilli flakes, chopped olives chopped sun dried tomatoes ....... whatever takes your fancy, use all or some of the above, I did say NOT Irish.

I use yoghurt and milk as buttermilk is hard to find where I am in rural France, I'm sure it will be fine using buttermilk.

This is really quick to make and great when you open the bread bin to find that someone has finished off the bread.

Happy Baking


Karen's picture

You need Irish flour; I use Odlums, both their Cream Plain and their Extra Coarse Wholemeal (an Irish grocery is a very short subway trip away). I've learned that soda bread just isn't right unless you use soft Irish flour (and no, I haven't tried KAF's take on it). You also need to know that authentic soda bread is very different in texture to yeast breads--it's kinda biscuity. The dough is also baffling to first-timers--it's kinda between an incredibly thick batter and a very loose dough. It bakes up really nicely in an Émile Henry cloche.

cp3o's picture

This is the best soda bread in the world.  I do not know where I got it but here it is.

1. preheat 375 and grease an 8" round cake pan.  

2. Sift together 2 and 1/2 c. ap flour, 1/4 c. sugar, 1/2 t. baking soda, 2 t. baking powder, and 1/2 t. salt.

3. Cut in 1/2 c. butter.

4. Beat together 1 egg, 1c. sour cream, and 1/2 c. milk.

5. Stir into dry ingredient :  1 and 1/2 c. golden raisins which have been softened in hot water, drained , dried and mixed with 1 T. flour and 1t. caraway seeds or caraway powder,  

6. Blend all to make a lumpy dough then with wet hands, press evenly into the pan.  

7. Sprinkle lightly with Wondra or any flour and bake for 35=40 min.  

                    That's it!  


Tony Greiner's picture
Tony Greiner

I made a couple of loaves of Irish Soda Bread today, and had read that Irish Buttermilk is made with whole milk, (3.8%)whereas most US Buttermilk is made with 1.5% and so there is a difference if using an Irish recipe.  But in a Russian grocery store I found whole-milk kefir, and used that instead of buttermilk.  That worked just fine.

I made a savory and a slightly sweet loaf-- it will be interesting to try a kefir with fruit flavor (lemon could be nice) and a little sugar and see how that comes out.

Karen's picture

I was told by someone Irish who grew up on a farm that their buttermilk was fed to the hogs (IOW don't bother trying to reproduce it) and that soda bread was made with clabbered whole milk. I just sour whole milk with vinegar when I make soda bread or brown bread. And proper soda bread never contains baking powder, although Odlums Cream has a bit slipped in.