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Traditional freshly-made Irish Soda Bread

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Adjust Servings:
400g Plain White Flour Plus extra for dusting
250-300ml Buttermilk
1 Tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
1 Tsp Salt

Traditional freshly-made Irish Soda Bread

An easy, beautiful recipe for traditional Ulster Soda Bread


    This Soda Bread recipe is for an easy and quick to make breakfast bread

    • 15-20 minutes
    • Serves 4
    • Easy




    When I think of traditional Irish food, one of the first things I think of is Soda Bread. Soda Bread is an easy and quick to make bread recipe which uses baking soda to rise. A chemical reaction between the sodium bicarbonate and buttermilk creates lots of bubbles of carbon dioxide. This means that the bread does not need time to rise or prove which gives it its speedy properties.

    Irish soda bread is a great, simple breakfast to try on camp

    We’re based in the North of Ireland so when we say Soda Bread, we are talking about a savoury bread made with white flour. In the Republic, Soda Bread can be made with wholemeal flour and is usually called ‘brown bread’. I think breads like this down south are sweetened a bit more, more like our wheaten bread up here. I have heard people from Fermanagh called Soda Bread ‘fadge’. I’d avoid that one unless you’re a local. In fact, I’d love to hear if you have any geographically specific names for breads made this way.

    The dough is quartered and dry cooked in a floured cast iron pan

    We are going to flatten our dough and cut it into four pieces. It will be dry cooked on a cast iron pan, so it is technically soda ‘farls’ but everyone I know would say ‘bread’. This is the most traditional way to make this sort of bread as it would have been cooked on a griddle or hotplate on a range or over a turf fire.

    Bread made this way is the perfect start to your day. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day after all. I don’t pretend to take scales with me camping, you can use cups to get roundabout measuring. This time though, I did my measuring before I left home. Just remember you’re going to need extra flour for dusting your board, hands and pan. I measured out 400g and then added 2 heaped tablespoons which I removed again before mixing and set aside.

    All the edges are cooked with the bread standing up

    Soda Bread is delicious served warm with good Irish or Northern Irish butter. After a day or two soda bread is best sliced in half and fried as part of an Ulster Fry. The Ulster Fry is the superior breakfast in the British Isles.

    Soda bread served warm with good Irish butter is the best camp breakfast

    We will have a YouTube video up shortly showing you how to mix this bread from scratch.


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    Combine the flour (remove the two heaped teaspoons extra you need) with the baking soda and salt and mix together.


    Mix in a little of the buttermilk at a time with a fork. Keep adding little splashes until you have a firm dough and all of the flour is combined. This time I used around 270ml but this might change depending on a variety of things so add it slowly.


    Transfer to a floured surface and shape into a ball. Then press the ball flat and cut into four quarters.


    Heat your pan, griddle or hot plate to a low to medium heat. This can tricky with a campfire, my fire was too hot this time. It's not the end of the world, you just need to make sure the outsides don't burn but that the inside is cooked through. When it's heated, give the pan a light dusting of flour.


    With floured fingers, carefully lay your farls on the floured pan. Cook each side for around 5-6 minutes and then flip. When you've cooked the tops and bottoms, stand them up and cook on each edge. Carefully, go around the curved edges, I find using the side of the pan to stand them up helped.


    They will stay soft and spongey to the touch even when cooked through. I like to leave them to cool slightly and then cut into them longways and then butter with good actual butter, no spread! They are delicious as part of an Ulster fry, a full soda (like a sandwich with bacon, sausages and egg) or even grilled with cheese on top. This is one of the easiest, tastiest campfire breads I've ever made and I hope you give it a go.

    Mark T

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