Irish Soda Bread

9 March 2022

Irish soda bread is a non yeast, rustic bread. Traditionalists will say that you only need flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk. Others will say that this is actually more of a scone. The retort is that to add anything else would make it a tea cake.

The texture is formed when the buttermilk, which is acidic, reacts with the baking soda and creates bubbles of carbon dioxide. The dough is formed into a ball and then, using a sharp knife, cut into the top in the form of an “X” to allow the steam to escape. Some bakers divide the dough into four triangles and cook them on a flat griddle rather than the oven. If you opt for the scone size, then baking time will reduce to about 20 minutes.

There are tons of recipes available and most are pretty simple. Some will include eggs. There are many things you can add to the basics to make it your own like cinnamon, raisins, caraway seeds, and other items. Here are two to choose from. The second recipe is slightly different because Europeans tend to measure ingredients by weight rather than volume.


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • ¼ cup buttermilk


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a large baking sheet.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and butter. Stir in 1 cup of buttermilk and egg. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly. Form dough into a round and place on prepared baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine melted butter with 1/4 cup buttermilk; brush loaf with this mixture. Use a sharp knife to cut an ‘X’ into the top of the loaf.

Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Check for doneness after 30 minutes. You may continue to brush the loaf with the butter mixture while it bakes.

2nd Recipe


  • 500 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 400 ml buttermilk


Heat the oven to 400°F.

Put the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl, then stir in the buttermilk and mix to combine to a soft dough.

Tip out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and quickly shape the dough into a ball.

Flatten the ball slightly and place it on the lined baking tray. Use a sharp knife to cut a cross in the top of the bread, almost down to the base (but without cutting all the way through).

Bake the loaf for 30 minutes, until golden brown and the base sounds hollow when tapped. Transfer to a wire rack to cool before slicing.

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