Irish Soda Bread Recipe | from Aghadoe Heights Hotel & spa

Recipes > Irish Soda Bread Recipe | from Aghadoe Heights Hotel & spa

Classic Irish Soda Bread with a chunk of cheese or a bowl of soup makes for a hearty lunch or snack. With St. Patrick’s Day fast approaching, here is a classic Irish Soda Bread recipe for you. We got this gem from the venerable Aghadoe Heights Hotel and Spa in Killarney, County Kerry.

Moreover, Irish Soda Bread is quite easy to make. Thus, you can enjoy it often or while you wait for your next visit to Ireland. By the way, we would be delighted to arrange that for you.

Making Irish soda bread

This recipe makes a classic Irish Soda Bread with a simple approach. Follow these steps to create a tasty loaf perfect for any event!


  • 1 ¾ cups (265g/9oz) whole wheat flour (fine or coarsely ground).
  • 1 ¾ cups (265g/9oz) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda.
  • 2 tablespoons (30g/1oz) Irish butter, cold
  • 1 egg.
  • 1 2/3 cups (400ml) buttermilk, room temperature or cold
  • 1 tablespoon oats.


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F (215 C).
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and baking soda. Next, add the butter to the flour mixture by rubbing it with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. In a separate jug, whisk the egg and buttermilk together.
  4. Next, make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.
  5. Pour the ¾ ounce liquid mixture into the dry mix.
  6. Using your hand, mix the liquids into the flour until it comes together in a shaggy dough. The dough should be quite soft, but not too sticky. Otherwise, you know that it needs more of the liquids.
  7. On a floured surface, gently bring the dough together into a round shape. Then, pat it down to be about 1-1/2 inches (4 cm) thick and form it into an 8-inch by 8-inch square.
  8. Place on a baking sheet dusted well with flour.
  9. Score the bread by blessing it with a deep cross on top. Also, poke a hole in the 4 corners of the bread.
  10. Glaze the bread with the leftover bit of buttermilk in your jug and dust the top with rolled oats.
  11. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Then, turn down the oven to 400 F (200 C) and bake for 30 minutes more. When done, the loaf will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
  12. Finally, remove from the baking sheet and place on a wire rack to cool.

Alternative Ingredients and Methods for Making Irish Soda Bread

The beauty of Irish soda bread lies in its simplicity, but there’s room for some twists! Here’s how you can adapt the recipe to suit your tastes.

  • Buttermilk Substitute: If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, don’t worry. Create a substitute by whisking 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice into 1 cup of milk. Let it sit for 5 minutes before using, as it needs to react with the baking soda for leavening.
  • Irish Butter vs. Regular Butter: While Irish butter adds a classic touch, regular butter works just fine!
  • Baking Powder in a Pinch: Irish soda bread typically uses baking soda for leavening. That said, baking powder may be a near substitute but it may slightly alter the taste. Moreover, use 3 teaspoons of baking powder for every 1 teaspoon of baking soda. You might also need to reduce the buttermilk slightly, as baking powder is already a leavening agent.

Cast-Iron Skillet Magic

For an extra crispy crust and a soft interior, try baking your soda bread in a preheated cast-iron skillet! Preheat the skillet in the oven at 425°F (215°C) for 20 minutes before adding the dough. Next, reduce the heat to 400°F (200°C) after placing the dough.

Then, bake for the same amount of time as directed in the recipe. A cast iron pan works the same way, but a skillet’s higher sides can help trap more steam.

Beyond the Basics

This recipe is for a classic quick bread, unlike yeast bread which needs rising time. Feel free to mix and match with different flours, sweeteners, and flavors!

  • Flour Power: Try different flours or a combination of them. You can use whole wheat flour for a heartier loaf. Also, you may add some oat flour or spelt flour for more texture and flavor.
  • A Touch of Sweetness: Classic soda bread is not sweet. However, flour, sugar, and baking soda aren’t a bad mix. So, sprinkle some sugar or a tablespoon of honey into the dough for a slightly sweeter taste.
  • Flavorful Additions: Add chopped dried fruit (raisins, cranberries) or nuts (walnuts, pecans). Also, you may add herbs (fresh rosemary, thyme) to the dough for a tasty twist.

The Origins of Irish Soda Bread

Unlike many traditional breads steeped in ancient lore, Irish soda bread wasn’t a staple food until the late 1830s. This is because the key ingredient, baking soda, wasn’t widely available in Ireland until then. This seemingly simple twist shifted Irish bread making.

Before this time, bakers mainly used yeast to make bread in Ireland. However, Irish wheat options weren’t ideal for making the fluffy, airy loaves that yeast excels at creating. Additionally, many families couldn’t afford or readily access butter, another common leavening agent at the time.

The use of baking soda proved to be a perfect match for this situation. Also, baking soda mixed with buttermilk released carbon dioxide, causing the bread to rise. Thus, it allowed bakers to create tasty bread that used what was already in their kitchens.

Embrace the Spirit with a Homemade Irish Soda Bread

St. Patrick’s Day is a time to honor Irish culture and heritage. What better way to embrace the spirit than by baking a loaf of classic Irish Soda Bread?

This quick bread is a staple in Irish cuisine and is perfect for bakers of all levels. Our recipe makes a tasty and classic loaf – perfect for enjoying on its own. Meanwhile, it’s also great with a hearty soup or stew or as a sandwich. So, get ready to channel your inner Irish spirit and whip up a batch of this hearty treat!

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