• 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose white flour (4 cups for a white bread loaf)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 level teaspoon baking soda (3/4 teaspoon for a white bread loaf)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups buttermilk
  • Butter for the baking pan, softened

This recipe contains: Dairy, Wheat

Recipe notes: There are many ways to vary this basic soda bread recipe. You might add to the white loaf 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1/2 cup golden raisins, or dark raisins or currants which you flour lightly and stir into the batter at the last minute. Chopped walnuts and raisins would be delicious as well.


Irish Soda Bread

James Beard

Author and Educator

If one food can be considered a staple of Irish cuisine, it is no doubt Irish soda bread. In Ireland you find it on every table; every bakery has its own version. What makes Irish soda bread so appealing, however, is its ease of preparation. A quick bread that uses baking soda as a leavening agent, it doesn’t have to rise first like traditional yeast bread, and can be varied according to taste. Both whole wheat and all-white versions are equally delicious, and the addition of caraway seeds, raisins, or walnuts make it extremely pleasant, though some might quibble that these add-ins make it less than authentic.

Yield: 1 loaf


Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Add buttermilk a little at a time until you have a soft dough. You will just have to sense when you have a good soft dough; it should be similar to a biscuit dough.

Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 2 or 3 minutes, until it is quite smooth and velvety-looking. Form it into a round cake. Place it in a well-buttered 8-inch cake pan or on a well-buttered cookie sheet. Cut a large cross on the top of the loaf with a very sharp floured knife.

Place it into the oven and bake for 35 to40 minutes, until it has turned a nice brown and sounds hollow when you tap it with your knuckles. The cross on the top will have spread into a sort of deep gash, which is characteristic of Irish soda bread. Let the loaf cool completely before cutting it into paper-thin slices; soda bread must never be cut thickly.