I am not Irish and I am not one to bake bread often. I like St. Patrick’s Day because it has been a special date for me since 1998 when something brilliantly life-changing happened.

To celebrate the day and that memory, I have made two different loaves of Irish Soda Bread. It could not be easier.

Americans, please note, this is the flour and caraway seeds kind, not the Irish-American sweet version. See here for the Irish Soda Bread debate.

Happy St. Paddy’s! (oh and yeah, it’s Paddy, not Patty)


For the darker loaf on the left:

  • 1 3/4 cups wholemeal flour and 1 3/4 cups white strong bread flour
  • 1 Tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 2 Tablespoons milled linseeds/flaxmeal (I didn’t have unmilled ones, but if I did, I would have put in 1 Tbsp only)

For the lighter loaf on the right:

  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose white flour and 1 3/4 cups wholemeal flour
  • 2 Tablespoons caraway seeds

If you fancy all three types of seeds – caraway, fennel and linseeds/flax, then by all means combine them all – one tablespoon of each. I have also used nigella and cumin seeds with good results. 

Rest of ingredients and method for either type:

  • 1 teaspoon baking-soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups vegan buttermilk (oat, soy or almond milk mixed with 2 Tablespoons apple cider/white vinegar or lemon juice; mix in glass container; let stand for 10 minutes)

Preheat oven to 220C/425F.

I used a modified Dutch oven method for baking. I do not have a Dutch oven proper and I used a cast iron and ceramic baking dish. I have also used an oven-proof glass baking dish and you may also use a cast iron pan. Whatever you decide to use, you will need to heat your cast iron pan or saucepan. So place the dish in the oven as soon as you turn on the oven. You could also use a baking sheet, but then you will need to split the dough into smaller dough balls.

Mix flour, seeds, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Just before you are ready to put the bread mix in the oven, mix in the buttermilk (otherwise it starts reacting with the baking soda and you only want it to do that in the oven – this is not a bread dough you pre-make).

The mixture made with all purpose white flour will feel looser and more moist than a regular bread dough, while the mix made with strong bread flour will be a bit drier (all this is because of the different types of flour and the moisture they absorb).

Mix it well, but do not knead it. Gather dough into ball. Turn out onto lightly floured surfaced and knead lightly just until dough holds together, about 1 minute.

Quickly and carefully take your baking dish out of the oven. Sprinkle some cornmeal or semolina (or any granulated flour) into the bottom. Plop the dough into the baking dish. Cut 1-inch-deep X across top of bread, extending to the edges. Bake for approximately 20 to 25 minutes covered and 10 minutes uncovered. The bread should make a hollow sound when you tap the bottom. Transfer bread to rack and cool completely.

Left: caraway, fennel and flax seeds. Right: nigella and cumin seeds

Going vegan is not about you and your preferences and your lifestyle. It is about animals. It is about what you owe to them. (Francione). Going vegan is easy http://www.howdoigovegan.com

Posted by:Emi'sGoodEating

10 replies on “Mostly Traditional Irish Soda Bread

  1. I bought some vegan soda bread in Dublin – from Tesco’s of all places – back in 2004. When I went into Blazing Salads they didn’t even know what soda bread is so.

    1. 2004!! Amazing!!! From Tesco! wow. Interesting from an econo-culinary perspective. Collateral benefits of increasing margins.

      I have heard Dublin has a very good vegan scene.

      1. Gill’s Dairy Free soda bread. You could also buy it in Dunnes. I understand that it is no longer made. Dublin is OK for a city its size, I wouldn’t rate it as ‘good’ from a vegan perspective, but then sure nowhere in Ireland is really, at all at all.

  2. There are a number of good and interesting vegan products coming out of Ireland (Dee’s Wholefoods, a variety of seaweed producers, few examples). I follow a number of Irish vegans on social media. Seems ok (and yes, Dublin seems to be in the lead and agreed as to your qualification of it – fair enough). Maybe not at the neighbourhood pub… well, with Guiness and all. But I’ve not been in a very very long time. So, I’ve no first hand experience.

    1. I have a few Irish vegans following me. I’ve even given them some tips, to visit the Nutmeg shop in Belfast for example.

    1. I live in Coventry. Belfast is worth a day trip, it has a nice city centre. I’d recommend visiting the John Hewitt Pub, named after the poet, a native of Belfast who was the first Arts Director of the Herbert Art Gallery in Coventry (from 1957-72). The pub does (or did) Hoegaarden, which is vegan, on tap. There is nothing vegan on the menu, but I guess that they would respond to demand if it were there. If you visit Northern Ireland for a week or so, I recommend Ballycastle Backpackers. You can visit Rathlin Island, Carrick-a-rede and the Giants Causeway easily from there.

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