The Fresh Loaf

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Sylvia's Irish Soda Bread

SylviaH's picture

Sylvia's Irish Soda Bread

Irish American Heritage Month

This is the way my Irish Mother 'Sylvia' taught me to make Irish Soda Bread.  I was born in Belfast, Ireland and raised in the USA.  All my family...My Children and Grandchildren 'My Brother his Irish wife and her family '10 brothers and sisters' their four children and now Great Grandkids,Aunts, Uncle's, name it are close by here in the USA and a few Aunt's and Uncle's cousins in Australia!  We all love Irish Soda Bread!  This Soda Bread is very Basic and yet this recipe can be made using some wheat flour, even the Irish Wheaten flour, add raisins, currants or sultans and make "Spotted Dog" or "Spotted Dick", shape into Farls or Round Bread and cut a cross on top.  I didn't use my currants today...but you get the idea!  I baked my Farls in my Iron skillet...heated until a little flour sprinkled on the bottom turns brown..a med. low heat!  Farls also bake up very nicely on Aunt used to cover hers with a towel to help them bake a little warmer.  I bake a Farl about 10min. on each side..till they are nice and lightly browned and then turn them over once and finish.  The oven baked soda bread is baked in a preheated oven 350F for apx. 35 min.

I hope this might help some who are making Irish Soda Bread on St. Patrick's Day...It's simple fast and delicious warm or cold!

This Recipe Makes One Round Loaf "or" 4 Farls.

2  Full Cups of All Purpose Flour or 1 1/2 Cups AP and 1/2 Whole Wheat> my Mum always said the Irish cup measures are larger so we filled them!!

1 tsp. Salt

1  Slightly Heaped tsp. Cream of Tartar "This is a Family Secret sort of : )"  you can take it out if you insist on using only Baking Soda!! 

1 Heaped tsp. Baking Soda> I use the one from the health food store

1 Full Cup of Buttermilk

Mix all dry ingredients well.  Make a well in the flour and pour in buttermilk.  Toss with fork until all flour sticks together.  Handling is  fast, gentle and not over mixed...Iron fist velvet glove!!  Drop out onto a very well floured surface and push into a ball and give 2 or 3 gentle kneads it can be sticky so use extra flour.  Form gently into a ball.  Place into pie pan. Flatten a little, cut a cross on top with a floured knife.  For Farls.  Flatten cut into fourths and bake in a skillet or on a griddle.

Bake 350F Oven 35min. till sounds hollow when bottom is tapped and nicely browned -Farls are>    Med-Low Skillet/Griddle  Nicely browned not to dark


Mixing Dry Ingredients

Your gonna love these measurments...Full Cup of Buttermilk...same with Flour measurements...flour is heaped in this cup!!  Hey this is the old fashioned Irish Way!!

Pour Buttermilk into a well of Flour

Form into a sticky mass Gently!

Gently knead 2 or 3 times into a ball adding extra flour to keep from sticking.

Cut a cross on top or flatten a little more and cut all the way through with a floured knife and flour sliced areas and make  Soda Farls.

Place in 350F preheated oven

Apx. 35 min till done

Sliced Warm Crumb

Soda Farls in the Iron Pan

Turned Over after about 10mins.

Place in towel to keep soft.

Slice like this...

Farl Crumb

Oh I'll just have an 1/8th...and another and another before I go on my bike ride!!

Hope you enjoyed my photos...I let the battery run down in my new camera and still not sure how to use this older one! 

May The Luck of The Irish Be With You!  If you try this recipe : ))














Susan's picture

Great story, excellent layout.  And your bread looks delicious!  My Irish great-grandmother would be proud of you.

Susan from San Diego



SylviaH's picture

Susan thank you for the nice compliments! : )


LindyD's picture

Lovely presentation, Sylvia!

And may you live as long as  you want, and never want as long as you live.


SylviaH's picture

 Hi LindyD.  Thank you for the nice compliment and the Irish Blessing!


hansjoakim's picture

Oh delicious :)

I love quick breads any time of the day. Is the batter similar to e.g. a cream scone batter? Do you store leftovers covered in the fridge, or do you freeze any?

I guess the cream of tartar takes off the "soda" taste from using only baking soda? Nice photos!

SylviaH's picture

Thanks Hans...I had some floured hands while taking the photo's...I guess you could compare it to a scone or biscuit.  A Buttermilk Bannock is more similar because it usually has some egg in it and rises up more cake like a scone.  Soda Bread is really meant to be baked up and eaten fresh...and if there is a little left over just wrap it up in a towel to keep it soft.  The Irish don't care much for cold things like iced water or beverages I've never seen any refrigerated.  It is very good the next day toasted or we would fry bacon in the iron skillet and then fry the bread in a tiny bit of the fat until nicely toasted and browned with breakfast!  Or we loved it for a sandwich...bacon again makes a wonderful sandwich.  Ive never had it frozen and wouldn't recommend it.  When company hits the door it's quick and easy enough to make fresh and serve with a nice hot cup o tea.  You know the Irish always feed you when you come to matter how little food they had it was always shared!  This recipe makes a small loaf of 4 nice farls...which is nice because you don't really want to have much left over...better to have it fresh made in small batches. 


xaipete's picture

I definitely have to try this one. I loved the farls. --Pamela

SylviaH's picture

Hi xaipete, Thank you.  The farls make for great sandwiches!



Dave W's picture
Dave W

I'm a sucker for farls, i'm gona make this over the weekend here in the UK.


Dave W

SylviaH's picture

One thing I forgot to note on the recipe was it is helpful sometimes to turn your farls up on their sides to finish off the helps to make sure they are done through without overly browning...just watch the pan heat doesn't get to hot!


gothicgirl's picture

I had some really tasty soda bread in Ireland.  They served it with Kerrygold butter and smoked salmon.  It was so good.  The bread you made looks so much like what I had in Ireland that I can hardly wait to get home and bake some.  Thank you!!!

SylviaH's picture

Hi gothicgirl, Your welcome and thank you...How nice you got to enjoy Ireland!  I picked up some Kerrygold onsale yesterday!

Sylvia Slemish Mountain 

Marni's picture

I had just the right amount of buttermilk in the fridge and two kids home sick from school and hungry for a snack.  This came out of the oven 1/2 an hour ago and is half eaten.  (my husband and the rest of the crew joined in too) Everyone enjoyed it!  I didn't have any cream of tartar, but it came out fine.  

Thanks again,


SylviaH's picture

Hi Marni, Your welcome and glad everyone enjoyed it...It is perfect for a quick warm snack...the AP flour soda bread /  farls are my favorite!


gavinc's picture

I'm going to give these a try in the camp oven (Dutch oven style with cast iron pot and lid in the hot coals and on top of the lid). I'm always on the look-out for good recipes for when we are camping.  We tradionally make Australian Damper when camping, but the Irish soda bread looks a much healthier option.  Our Australian damper includes sugar, butter and whole milk.  My wife is always at me to count the calories these days!



SylviaH's picture

Hi Gavin, A Dutch oven used is very handy.  I had a friend who used to dig a hole and put coals I think under and then on the inset on top of the dutch oven and then..I can't remember it was so long ago what he cooked...but I do remember it was something everyone loved and they did it often...but then he would bury it and there it would bake for a few hours. 

erzsebet does not have room to carry a heavry iron fry pan or iron pot.  So she has been able to make the farls on the coalman stovetop with a lite weight pan.

Though I highly recommend cast iron pans and own will have some nice bakes using the dutch oven.  The farls taste the same and are very easily made on the stovetop.  They just take a little practice with mixing gently and cooking on the stove top at a very low temperature so they get done in the center..test with a spagetti noodle..when poked down in the center comes out dry!  They can fool you and look done but always check the center...for me this is the easiest way!  You can also add a little, sugar and currants or raisins for a sweeter version.  Have fun camping!


Mary Fisher's picture
Mary Fisher

Authentic Irish soda bread AND a superb set of pictures. Let's hope this finishes the discussion :-)