Happy Saint Patrick’s Day, everybody! In honor of this holiday (the feast day of a British saint) I decided to make some Irish soda bread.

Now before you go telling me that Ireland is not part of Great Britain, I’ll tell you that I’m well aware of it. However, soda bread is not limited to Ireland. According to one website, “In Europe, soda breads began to appear in the mid-19th century when bicarbonate of soda first became available for use as a rising agent. Breads, griddle cakes and scones with bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar or tartaric acid became popular…in the British Isles.” Bannocks, girdle scones, and farls from Scotland are all leavened with baking soda (or powder). So soda bread is a tradition in Britain as well as Ireland. So there.

Here’s a delicious recipe I found in Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Mrs. Sharp’s Traditions. This is a dense, subtly flavored bread that is wonderful as part of breakfast or a quick snack. It’s also a snap to prepare!

Mrs. Sharp’s Irish Soda Bread

  • 4 cups white flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 ½ cups sour milk
1. Mix together flour, soda, salt, and sugar.
2. Add sour milk and stir together with a wooden spoon. The dough should be thick and sticky, but not too wet. this is the point where I almost always wonder if this dry, lumpy mess is ever going to make bread. It always does.
3. Turn dough onto a floured surface and form with hands into a round loaf. Place the loaf into a cast-iron frying pan or heavy round casserole dish that has been greased with butter. I use a pizza stone, which is probably closer to a Scottish girdle than anything else. Score the top in the form of a cross with a wet knife (dig in at least an inch).
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Bread should cool for an hour before serving (but I like to eat it while it’s still warm!).
Note: If the loaf is made with whole-meal wheat flour, it is known as brown bread; if made with unbleached white flour, it’s Irish soda bread. Authentic Irish soda bread is made with sour milk, not buttermilk, or milk soured by adding vinegar or lemon juice. To sour milk, simply leave it out overnight.
A crust of bread, a piece of cheese, and thou….


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Written by Abigail Young

I've had a passion for everything British my entire life, despite being raised as a small-town girl in the American Midwest, After years of dreaming, I got the chance to live and work in England for an entire year. Now I write about my favorite country, and hopefully inspire my fellow Britophiles to get over there and experience it for themselves.

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