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Irish Soda Bread

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

With St, Patrick’s Day coming up next Saturday, we elected to include a recipe for our favorite Irish soda bread for today’s Tasty Tuesday.

According to the Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread (there really is such an organization), the Scots may have made the bagpipe their instrument, but the Irish seem to have made soda bread theirs, not by choice, but by a state of poverty in the 1930s after the invention of inexpensive baking soda, which made it the easiest and least expensive bread to put on the table.

This simple classic is also suggested to make perfect morning toast after too many green beers or whiskies celebrating St. Patrick’s Day and night.

Sorry to take some soda bread thunder away from the Irish, but the first actual peoples to use soda to leaven their bread were the American Indians. They are reported to have used pearl ash—a natural form of potassium carbonate (potash) created from the ashes of wood, to leaven their breads without the presence of yeast. 


The texture of today's soda bread is the result of a chemical reaction between acid and baking soda that results in the formation of small bubbles of carbon dioxide in the dough.

Traditionally, the top of soda bread is marked with a cross to ward off evil spirits and protect the household.

For those of you who enjoy river running, soda bread is a camp favorite, and some river guides excel at making this bread from scratch in a cast-iron pot over an open fire. 


4 cups all-purpose flour

2 to 4 tablespoons white sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt 

1/2 cup very soft butter

1 cup buttermilk

1 egg

For brushing on top before baking

1/4 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup buttermilk


Preheat oven to 375 degrees, lightly grease a large baking sheet.

Mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and butter in a large bowl.

Stir in one 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 ¼ cup buttermilk; brush loaf with this mixture. Use a sharp knife to cut the ‘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.


Enjoy the week, stay safe, and eat well.

Ellen Troyer, with David Amess and the Biosyntrx staff