Library Blog

Cooking with the Library–Irish Soda Bread

Spread the love

“May your troubles be less, and your blessings be more. And nothing but happiness come through your door.” – Irish proverb  

What would St. Patrick’s Day be without a traditional loaf of Irish Soda Bread? Luckily, it is extremely easy to make.   

This recipe uses no yeast and requires no long hours waiting for the dough to rise. Instead, it uses baking soda and buttermilk for leavening.  

This technique gives you a bread that is deliciously crusty on the outside and dense, but soft in the middle. It is perfect fresh from the oven and slathered with butter or jam.  

This 4-ingredient recipe comes from The Farmette Cookbook Recipes and Adventures From My Life on An Irish Farm by Imen McDonnell. 



Traditional White Soda Bread 

Makes 1 loaf 


  • 3 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 ¾ cups buttermilk* 


  1. Preheat the oven to 450˚F.
  2.  In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Make a well in the center and slowly pour in the buttermilk. Mix the dough with your hands, adding more milk if necessary, until the texture is soft, but not very wet and sticky.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and shape into a 1-inch-thick round. Cut a cross on the top. 

Note: According to Irish folklore, marking the top of the loaf with a deep cross lets the fairies out, although it also serves the important purpose of letting the heat escape the loaf while baking.

  1. Place a stone or flour-dusted baking sheet in the oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 400˚F for 30 minutes, or until the bread is cooked through. Tap the bottom of the bread to check for doneness; if it makes a hollow sound, it is ready.
  2. Let it cool for 10 minutes and serve slathered with butter. This bread is best on baking day, but it will keep for two days in a bread box or airtight container.

*Librarians note:  If you do not have buttermilk you can make your own substitute.  Add 2 Tbsp of vinegar or lemon juice to 1 1/2 cup milk. 


sliced Irish soda bread