An Old Family Recipe for Irish Soda Bread

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I love to cook. My inspiration comes from fond memories of cooking with my two grandmothers in their respective kitchens. They taught me to cook from scratch and find joy in family recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation.

St. Patrick's Day is a favorite of mine, since it's my mother’s birthday and reminds me of my Irish heritage, too. This year, my daughter and I went to my grandmother's house to learn the family soda bread recipe, which came from County Cork in Ireland by way of my great-grandfather’s cousin. I learned that soda bread is simple to make--it doesn’t require a rising or even much kneading—and the ingredients are easy to find. In the great tradition of Irish families giving their family soda bread a unique "twist," I like to substitute coconut oil instead of shortening and whole wheat flour for all purpose flour. I also add Flaxseed Meal for a nutritional boost. Soda bread pairs nicely with any savory dish and the leftovers taste great toasted with jam for breakfast. 

Enjoy celebrating St. Patrick's Day with The May Family Soda Bread Recipe.

Minutes to Prepare: 30
Minutes to Cook: 45
Number of Servings: 14

Nutritional Info

Servings Per Recipe: 14
Calories: 187.0
Total Fat: 2.6 g
Cholesterol: 2.8 mg
Sodium: 279.8 mg
Total Carbs: 35.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.2 g
Protein: 5.3 g


4 cups all-purpose white flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons shortening
2 1/2 cups of lowfat buttermilk
1/2 cup raisins
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 10 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar into a mixing bowl. 

Add shortening and mix together with your hands until shortening is combined with dry mixture.  Add raisins (optional). Add buttermilk a little at a time and continue to combine with your hands. Reserve 2 tablespoons of buttermilk. Combine and lightly knead the dough for a couple of minutes.

Form the dough into a dome shape and make an "X" with a knife on top of the loaf. Brush with buttermilk. Put bread into prepared pan. 

Bake for 45 minutes on 350°F.  Check bread by inserting a toothpick. If the toothpick comes out clean it is done, if not continue to bake, checking every 5 minutes. Cover the bread with tin foil to ensure the top doesn’t get over cooked.  

Serving Size: Makes 14 - 2 inch pieces
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What family recipes or tips do you use in your kitchen? What are you cooking for St. Patrick’s Day?

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For those of you interested in the makeover recipe, go to
il.asp?recipe=2053078. Report
Our Irish Soda Bread recipe comes not from the Irish side of the family but rather from DH's Finnish Grandmothers. Oddly, except for the addition of an egg and double the raisins, it is almost identical to the recipe here. Cooked in a round pan (or cake pan), it cooks up beautifully.
It is so good I never bothered to fiddle with it the way I do so many recipes; but, I'll have to try your flax/WW/coconut variation next time. Report
Will have to try this sometime when I have company. I live alone. Too much for me to eat by myself. God Bless You and Have a Wonderful Week. Report
We are going to a St Patrick's Day dinner party and I just might take this as a hostess gift! Report
Thank you Samantha! I will try your revised version! I think my hubby will love it! Report
I am Irish and we had soda bread when I was growing up. Now I make all my bread from scratch but haven't made the soda bread in a while. Thanks for suggesting it!! I think that my mom put raisins in it. And I remember that the cross in the top was for the fairies!!! Thanks for the memories!! Report
my aunt made delicious soda bread for many years. i make an americanized version with some brown sugar, but it's the buttermilk that makes the bread! when in ireland i od'd on my cousins' bread but they have a different flour which better suits this bread. the most important thing is to make the x on top, which some may call a cross ... it's to let the fairies out so they don't spoil the bread! Report
This sounds delicious! I will have to try it. I'm of Scotch-English heritage, but I still love St. Pat's Day--must be a gaelic thing. ;-) Maybe I'll make this Saturday to go with our corned beef and veggies. :-) Report
I might try it , as for celebrating it - I'm ENGLISH. Report
Our family recipe for Irish Soda Bread comes from Annie O'Grady, 4 generations ago. My friends and family love to know I'm baking and delivering this holiday tradition. Slainte! Report
Sounds delicious. I am going to try it. Report
My mom's birthday is on St. Patrick's Day too! She will be 90 this year.
I am not Irish, but I do like soda bread and enjoy different recipes as well.
So glad to get a good soda bread recipe.
Will be sure to keep this one and try it out.

Sounds fantastic - we are hosting a party on Saturday, and I was a bit nervous about finding something authentic. I am so happy you are sharing this recipe - THANKS A MILLION! Report
I think the family soda bread recipe had caraway seeds in it (or my mother or her parents liked it that way!). Unfortunately, my mother was never able to duplicate it to her satisfaction, and I think the recipe was mostly in my grandmother's head. Have a grand St Patrick's Day! Report
Thank you for sharing this. I'm interested in using coconut oil more frequently so this is particularly welcome. Report
I use 2 cups of whole wheat flour and 2 cups of all purpose flour. 2 Tablespoons of coconut oil and 2 teaspoons of flaxseed meal.

For a healthy spread I highly recommend Chef Meg's No Added Sugar Pumpkin-Apple Butter. You can search for this recipe at Report
I would have preferred your WW version recipe. Do you sub everything you mentioned ounce for ounce.4 cups A/P for 4 cups w/w flour. I assumed W/W is heavier and would need more leavening. Report
I love my Soda Bread toasted and with some type of spread (butter or jam). Any suggestions on a health spread? Report