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Brown Soda Bread

Brown Soda Bread - An Irish Staple

Its not uncommon for you to be offered soda bread when staying in a B&B anywhere in Ireland.

Long ago, the Irish mostly made flat griddle bread because Irish flour didn’t have enough gluten to rise with yeast. Baking soda was developed in the US in 1846 and was quickly adopted by Irish cooks, as it enabled bread with Irish flour to rise. In the late 1800s, white Canadian flour with a higher gluten content came over on returning emigration ships, and bakeries started making white bread raised with yeast, known as “shop bread”, and distributing it by horse and cart.

Irish Soda Bread is delicious and like all recipes, you can make your own changes to please your taste. I discovered one tip from a recipe that I looked up years ago - use raw, unsalted sunflower seeds and mix them in thoroughly. The chemical interaction of the soda and the raw sunflower seeds causes the seeds to turn a beautiful, emerald green that looks fantastic when you slice into the bread. They say that the cross is cut in the loaf to "let the fairies out"!

Learn how to make Irish soda bread and other recipes this St Patrick’s Day! This traditional Irish food is great for serving with soups, sandwiches or stews, is quick to bake and has been made in Ireland for centuries.


1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 Cup all purpose flour
1 Cup wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking soda
half tsp salt (or a good pinch)
extra plain flour for dusting


Large mixing bowl
Wooden spoon
Baking tray
Sharp knife
Wire rack


1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Make a well in the center and pour in most of the buttermilk.
4. Using a wooden spoon, stir in a full circle, drawing in the flour from the sides of the bowl, until all flour is incorporated. Add more milk if necessary.
5. Do not overwork the dough as it will affect the texture. The dough should be soft but not too wet or sticky.
6. Sprinkle a little flour onto a lined baking sheet and turn out the bread mixture onto it.
7. Shape the mixture into a ball and make a deep cross in the top with a wet knife.
8. Lower the oven temperature to 375F and bake for 30 mins until bread is cooked. You'll know it is cooked when it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
9. Leave to cool on a wire rack.


If you liked this recipe, why not take a look at our ONLINE Ultimate Irish Cooking Course? This at-your-own-pace on demand course is full of more traditional authentic Irish recipes like this one. Get a taste of the Emerald Isle at home!


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