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How to Make Real Irish Soda Bread

by Lori on March 7th, 2011

Soda Bread on a Plate

Usually I am a green beer and shamrock shake kind of gal on Saint Patrick’s Day. It wouldn’t be Saint Patrick’s Day without green food coloring in my food or drink. However, this year I am not feeling quite myself. I am making something that is actually not green for the big day. Well, it’s not green yet anyway. I’m making Irish soda bread.

The Story

When it comes to making real Irish soda bread, it turns out I am a little green. I thought I had made Irish soda bread before when I made the Irresistible Irish Soda Bread recipe from Allrecipes. However, I recently discovered I was duped. It wasn’t “real” soda bread after all. I also discovered there is a Society for the Preservation of Soda Bread. According to the society, I really made a cake since it contained sugar and an egg. It was a good Irish soda cake though.

It turns out that real Irish soda bread only includes flour, salt, milk and of course baking soda – and nothing else. It sounds simple enough to make. This year I am going to make the society proud and make the real stuff. No fake bread for me.

Soda Bread on a Plate

Don’t get me wrong. I still like green-colored foods on Saint Patrick’s Day. Maybe I’ll return to my green food ways and make green beer bread next year.

The Moral of the Story

Don’t judge a recipe by its name alone. If it says it is Irish soda bread, check the ingredients to be sure. If it includes anything other than flour, salt, milk or baking soda, it is a soda bread imposter!

Soda Bread on a Plate

About the Recipe

For my first real Irish soda bread, I am making the Traditional Irish Soda Bread Recipe from It meets all the requirements of real soda bread. It has nothing other than flour, salt, milk and baking soda.

The Cast of Characters

Baking Soda
It wouldn’t be “soda bread” without the baking soda.

The Play by Play

Before you begin, preheat the oven to 425 and spray a baking sheet with Pam.

In a large bowl, place your flour.
Start with Flour

Next add your salt.
A Teaspoon of Salt

Now your baking soda.
Adding Baking Soda

Stir in your milk until the mixture forms a stiff dough.
Just Add Milk

Knead your dough and shape it into a ball.
Need More Kneading

Slice an “X” into the top of the loaf about 1/2 inch deep.
X Marks the Spot

Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
Soda Bread in the Oven

Serve immediately.
Soda Bread in Basket

The Footnotes

  • About Kneading the Dough: The dough seems more like a pie crust than bread dough. I was a little bewildered by the texture when mixing it together, and I don’t think I kneaded it enough. I was afraid of over mixing it like a pie crust. So I kneaded it gently and ended up leaving some creases in the dough when I shaped it in a ball. I wonder if that’s why I got this strange mushroom-shaped loaf after baking it.
  • Mushroom Shaped Soda Bread, take one

  • About the Crust and Crumb: This bread gets an extremely hard crust. It is so hard that I thought I had ruined it. But when I cut it open, it had the softest bread I had I have ever had inside.
  • Slicing Soda Bread

  • About Serving and Storing: Serve this immediately out of the oven. It is best when warm. It also dries out quickly so don’t even try to store it for later. OK, I have to admit am not sure if part of the reason it dried out was because of all the time I spent trying to photograph it for this post. If you are a food blogger, I am sure you understand. If you don’t need photos for your blog, eat it quickly.

Soda Bread on a Plate

The Recipe: Traditional Irish Soda Bread

For the complete recipe, see the Traditional Irish Soda Bread Recipe from

What’s your favorite thing to eat or drink on Saint Patrick’s Day?

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