Simple Soda Bread

Back in the day, I used to wonder why on earth people bothered making their own bread.  I remember a colleague saying one morning  “I got home and we had no bread so I baked a loaf”.  I thought she was mad.

But with a change of lifestyle, came a change of attitude and an eagerness to consider the possibility of making my own bread – in some shape or form.

Food From An Irish Garden (21)

I think every beginner starts with Soda Bread, four ingredients and you have your loaf.  But it wasn’t that simple for me…

When I was young we used to visit my grandmother Isabella on  Sundays.  Late every Sunday afternoon she would pull fresh soda bread out of the Aga.  It. Was. Amazing.  So with my first attempt at making soda bread I expected to be transported right back to her kitchen  upon tasting my wares.  Nope, that didn’t happen.  It was fine but it wasn’t Granny Isabella’s bread.

I tweaked the recipe and eventually discovered that using buttermilk that was near or just over it’s sell by date gave me that rich taste that tranported me back to that little house in Ferbane, Co Offaly.  Isabella was my Dad’s mother and the real stamp of approval came when my parents tasted it and gave it the thumbs up – in fact they regularly put in a “soda bread request” in advance of me visiting.

soda bread in basket www.fionadillon.comIt’s so incredibly simple to make, tastes great and makes a really lovely gift.  It is definitely one of the most popular recipes from “Food from an Irish Garden”.

gift of soda bread

Ingredients (makes 1 loaf)

450g plain flour

375mls of buttermilk

1 tsp salt

11/2 tsp bread soda



1.  Preheat the oven to 200C.

2.  Lightly flour a baking tray.

3.  Mix the flour, salt and bread soda together.  Sieve the mixture for extra lightness.

4.  Make a well in the centre of the flour and gradually add in the buttermilk, mixing slowly as the flour and milk come together.  You can get in here with your hands and mix away, but I like to use a wooden spoon.

5.  When the mixture comes together in a ball, put the dough onto a floured board or worktop.  Put flour on your hands a knead once or twice, place the dough on a tray and shape into a round loaf form.  With a sharp knife, make two deep cuts across the bread.

6.  Place the tray in the centre of the oven and bake for 35-40 mins.

7.  When you take the bread out, turn it over and tap the bottom of the bread.  If you hear a hollow sound the bread is done.

8.  Leave to cool on a wire tray (the hard part!)


So there you have it.  I’ll be demonstrating this and other recipes from “Food from An Irish Garden” at Taste of Carlow on Sunday August 31st.  Hope to see you there!



You’ll find my guide to preserving herbs in the current edition of Irish Country magazine.

For my favourite honey remedies, check out the current edition of Home Farmer and you’ll find the story of how I went from the corporate world to the good life in GIY’s Grow magazine.

“Food from an Irish Garden” is available in bookstores nationwide.


To book Fiona for a talk/demo phone 085 1057314 or email

5 thoughts on “Simple Soda Bread

  1. Excellent post Fiona. I remember the brown bread cooling on the kitchen window in the home of my childhood. In recent times, we have used a well known Irish brand bread in a packet mixes. That is until they changed the product mix around. Now their brown bread contains a raft of salt (47% of the daily allowance in two small slices). Far too much to be good for one. We have abandoned it and we now make our own from scratch. There is very little work in it and the results are light years ahead of our old habits.

  2. Amazingly I never tried it, I’ve made nearly every other type of bread but soda bread was always made by my nanny, then fried on one side and sprinkled with salt. There are few things in life as simple or divine! Maybe it is time to try it and start to give my own kids a soda bread memory.

    Thanks for the recipe

  3. Pingback: My “Irish” French Onion Soup | Fiona Dillon Writes

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