White Soda Bread

Celebrate St. Paddy's Day with a fresh-baked loaf of soda bread

Credit: Flickr / jgraham

Bake a loaf of fresh soda bread in under an hour

In honour of St. Paddy’s Day, this authentic Irish recipe for soda bread comes from Irish Traditional Cooking by Darina Allen (Kyle Books, 2005)

Soda bread uses bicarbonate of soda instead of yeast to leaven the bread in addition to an acidic ingredient, in this case buttermilk.

The bread takes only 2 to 3 minutes to make and about 45 minutes to bake. You can raise the bar from simple Irish soda bread by 
adding sun-dried tomatoes, olives or cheese. ’Tis the luck 
of the Irish!


  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 cups buttermilk


  1. First preheat your oven to 450°F.
  2. Sieve the dry ingredients.
  3. Make a well in the centre. Pour most of the milk in at once.
  4. Using one hand, stir in a full circle to mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more buttermilk if necessary. The dough should be soft, not too wet and sticky.
  5. When it all comes together, turn it out onto a floured board and knead lightly for a second, just enough to tidy it up.
  6. Pat the dough into a round about 2 inches deep and cut a cross on it — to let the fairies out! Let the cuts go over the sides of the bread to make sure of this.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, then turn down the oven to 400°F for a further 20 to 30 minutes or until cooked. If in doubt, tap the bread bottom. It should sound hollow.
  8. Cool on a wire rack or on the window sill in the time-honoured way.
  9. Fresh crusty bread makes my mouth water, but some people prefer a soft crust. Years ago a clean flour bag would have been wrapped around the hot bread to soften the crust. A tea towel will produce the same result.

Makes 1 large loaf.

Originally published in TVW. For daily programming updates and on-screen Entertainment news, subscribe to the free TVW e-newsletters, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.