White Soda Bread cut in half with red casserole pot in the background.

White Soda Bread

White Soda Bread is a great place to start if you are baking your own bread for the first time. It is a very simple, easy bread to make. It really is the quickest of all breads – no kneading, no proving and it tastes so good! If you would like to start making your own bread but have little time then I highly recommend having a go at this White Soda Bread recipe.

Baking soda bread is for me a comforting return to childhood memories. I remember my Irish grandmother baking White Soda Bread on her old fashioned solid fuel range. Going down to breakfast in the morning there would be the delicious smell of fresh soda bread!

In Ireland white soda bread is known simply as soda bread and brown soda bread is called wheaten bread. See my grandmother’s recipe for Wheaten Soda Bread.

White Soda Bread

Prep time

10

minutes
Cooking time

1

hour 

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds / 675 grams white plain flour

  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 15 fluid ounces / 450 ml / 2 cups buttermilk (see my recipe for cultured buttermilk in my Wheaten Soda Bread recipe) or sour milk (add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to 1 pint of fresh milk).

Directions

  • Sieve the dry ingredients (flour, bicarbonate of soda, cream of tartar and salt) into a large bowl.
  • Add enough buttermilk (or sour milk) to make a soft but not sticky dough.
  • Turn out onto a floured work surface and shape into a round 1 ½ inches / 4cm thick.
  • I like to bake my soda bread in a cast iron casserole dish as I find it creates a moister crumb. However, my mother preferred to bake her bread on a baking tray. If you use a casserole dish grease and line the bottom with baking parchment before placing your bread inside, otherwise place your bread on a floured baking tray.
  • Cut a deep cross in the top of your dough.
  • Pre-heat your oven to 200°C / 180°C Fan / 390°F / Gas Mark 6
  • Bake in the pre-heated oven for approximately 1 hour or until well risen and golden brown. It should sound hollow when tapped on the base.
  • Remove from the casserole or baking tray and wrap in a clean tea towel and cool on a wire rack.

Notes

  • If you wish to bake your bread in a cast iron casserole follow the instructions given for my Wheaten Soda Bread. I usually bake mine in a casserole.

Serving White Soda Bread

When cooked remove from the casserole or baking tray and wrap in a clean tea towel and cool on a wire rack. If you’re not eating it straight away then freeze it wrapped in cling film or foil. If you wish you could also cut it into four before freezing.

Like all breads soda bread is best served fresh, but when stale it does make delicious toast. Try with just butter or butter and your favourite jam or marmalade. It is also ideal to serve this bread with a strong mature cheddar.

White soda bread cut in half on table
White soda bread sliced and buttered

Traditional Variations on White Soda Bread

White Soda Bread and Wheaten Soda Bread (Brown Wholemeal Soda Bread) recipes are the basic soda bread recipes. You can add nuts, seeds, spices, dried fruit, sugar, honey or treacle. You can use different grains – oatmeal, rye or barley for example. Just as with yeasted or sour dough bread you can make many different varieties, some traditional, some modern.

I expect you have noticed that I am not using strong bread flour for these soda breads. They have traditionally been made using soft wheat flour and you will get the best results if you use the white and wholemeal flours used for cakes, biscuits and pastry.

Fruited white soda bread whole on a table
Fruited white soda bread cut in half on a table

Fruited Soda Bread

Just add about 8oz / 225gm / 1 ½ cups of dried fruit such as raisins, currants, sultanas or a mixture to the dry ingredients before you add the buttermilk or sour milk.

Treacle Bread

Just add 2-3 tablespoons of warmed treacle to the buttermilk or sour milk before you add it to the dry ingredients.

Seeded Soda Bread

Try adding 2 tablespoons of seeds eg: pumpkin, sunflower or sesame before you add the buttermilk or sour milk.

Experimenting with Different Grains in Soda Breads

I have experimented with different grains in soda breads and using not so traditional additions. See my Irish Soda Bread With Ancient Grains (Rye, Barley, Oats, Spelt) post. I am at the moment (January 2024) revisiting my bread recipes in order to re-organise and update them, so look out for some changes in the coming weeks.

If you do try some of these recipes I would love to know how they turn out and also the results of any experiments of your own!

Happy Baking!

Tanya

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