12 Mar

flour girl: Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread (2)

I spoke to my sister on the phone yesterday and told her that I made Irish soda bread that afternoon. I thought that she didn’t like soda bread, but she said that she was “pretty sure she did”. Pretty sure? That wasn’t very convincing, so I didn’t believe her.

Tonight at dinner Matt grabbed some panini out of the freezer. Didn’t he want my soda bread? I asked him. “Umm yeah, I don’t like soda bread.” Well, I knew someone didn’t like soda bread.

In any case, Matt said that this was the best soda bread he’s had, even though he didn’t like it. And didn’t want to eat it. Not exactly a raving review, but I’ll take it I suppose.

So, I’m talking about baking soda, yet again, but this time about it’s leavening properties.

Most breads rise because of yeast, which is an organic leavener, but some, like cornbread or Irish soda bread use baking soda for leavening. As an alkali, baking soda reacts with the acidic components of the dough to release carbon dioxide; this reaction makes the dough rise.

Normally Irish Soda Bread includes buttermilk, but since I didn’t have any on hand I subbed in some plain yoghurt instead. Yoghurt, like buttermilk, is acidic so it reacts with the baking soda to help the bread rise.

Irish Soda Bread

What I really like about this recipe is the inclusion of oats. I absolutely love the taste of oats and any time I can include it in my multigrain breads or crackers or cookies I will.

This bread is really good for breakfast with a smear of butter.

Irish Soda Bread


250g all purpose flour (~2 cups)
250g whole wheat flour (~2 cups)
100g oats (~1 cup)
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
25g butter, cut in pieces (~2 Tbsp)
1 c milk
1 c plain yoghurt


Preheat the oven to 400F and spray a lined baking sheet with pan spray.

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl, then rub in the butter with your fingers.

Mix in the milk and yogurt mix by hand, being gentle as you handle it (you don’t want to over knead it). Turn it onto a floured surfaced and shape it into a flat, round loaf about 1-1/2″ thick.

Transfer to the baking sheet and score a deep cross in the top. Bake for 30-35 minutes until browned and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.

Let cool on a rack before serving.

This post was submitted to Yeastspotting

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8 thoughts on “flour girl: Irish Soda Bread

  1. Thanks for visiting my blog and it’s a pleasure meeting you. I’ve never heard of a soda bread before but sounds delicious and would love to try it.

  2. What a great St. Paddy’s day treat! I’d like to cut off a huge slice and slather butter all over it and wash it down with a cold guinness…no joke, I’ll probably do just that on Saturday 😉 I like your site and so far your recipes look great!

  3. I made this a couple of days ago and the flavour is fantastic! I don’t know whether I’d ever eaten soda bread made with wholewheat flour, but the result was very dense and heavy. Fortunately, I like heavy, dense bread and we ate it all. However, my loaf didn’t rise as completely as I would have liked, and even after 10-15 minutes additional cooking time was a little doughy in the centre, and not all that heavily browned, so perhaps I could have left it a bit longer yet. I don’t have an oven thermometer, but as far as I know my oven is a little on the hot side, if anything. The pan was on the middle shelf.

    I followed your recipe and method to the letter. Here are the things I’m wondering about –

    – I am at about 3,000 ft altitude, but don’t usually have to alter recipes made with soda.
    – The dough was a bit on the wet and sticky side, but I was able to shape it into a loaf and it held its shape. Could it have been too wet?
    – I know you can’t hang about once you combine the wet and dry ingredients. Because the dough was so sticky I perhaps spent 5 minutes or so from combining ingredients to putting in oven. Is that reasonable?
    – the yogurt I used has a rather mild or bland taste. Perhaps it wasn’t acidic enough?

    I’d love any trouble shooting on offer, as I’m already hankering after another loaf, in spite of my only partial success! Thanks!

    • Hi Kris!
      Thanks for letting me know how this worked out for you. I love hearing feedback.
      I really have no experience baking at high altitudes so unfortunately I can’t offer any help from that perspective.

      The bread does come out to be quite dense and doesn’t rise a whole lot. It has more of a biscuit texture. My husband wasn’t a huge fan (I think I ate the whole load myself!) but I very much like that dense texture. If you are concerned about the baking soda you can check that it is still fresh by combining a teaspoon or so of baking soda to a couple tablespoons of white vinegar in a small bowl. If it bubbles and foams up a lot then it’s fresh.

      I have some trouble writing baking times and temperatures because my oven tends to run very hot but I may have overestimated that here. You can try turning the oven to 425*F since many soda bread recipes call for baking at 425. The bread shoul be a nice light golden brown on the crust.
      Alternately, if you have a baking stone or a cast iron skillet large enough to hold the loaf, then you can preheat the stone or the skillet in the oven, dust the loaf with flour, and bake the bread right on the stone or in the skillet. This would help in distributing heat through the bread during baking.

      It sounds as though your bread may have been a bit too sticky. Perhaps on the next go around you may not need a whole cup of milk. You can add the milk slowly so they mixture doesn’t become too wet (alternatively you can also add a little more flour).

      I hope this helps!

  4. Thanks for those ideas. I really like the cast iron skillet idea, and will try it. After writing, I also realised that the loaf I shaped was probably more like 2-3 inches high in the centre, so that may have accounted for most of my trouble, we’ll see! I’ll let you know how I get on next time.


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