Irish soda bread recipes from Ballymaloe Cookery School

Variations on a classic by Darina Allen, the “Julia Child of Ireland.”

CBS News

Ballymaloe Cookery School, in Shanagarry, County Cork, Ireland, was founded in 1983 by Darina Allen, whose several cookbooks and long-running television series “Simply Delicious” have earned her the sobriquet the “Julia Child of Ireland.”

The school (and its affiliated organic farm) is a proponent of the “slow food movement” based on traditional Irish cuisine.  

The following is Allen’s recipe for White Soda Bread and several variations. 

And don’t miss Martha Teichner’s visit to Ballymaloe Cookery School on CBS’ “Sunday Morning,” March 19! 

White Soda Bread and Scones

Soda bread only takes 2 or 3 minutes to make and 30-40 minutes to bake. It is certainly another of my “great convertibles.” We have had the greatest fun experimenting with different variations and uses. It’s also great with olives, sun-dried tomatoes or caramelized onions added, so the possibilities are endless for the hitherto humble soda bread.

1 lb. (450g/4 cups) white flour, preferably unbleached
1 level teaspoon (1/2 American teaspoon) salt
1 level teaspoon (1/2 American teaspoon) breadsoda
Sour milk or buttermilk to mix -- 12-14 fl oz (350-400 ml, or 1 1/2 - 1 3/4 cups) approx.

First, fully preheat your oven to 450ºF or Gas Mark 8.


Sieve the dry ingredients. Make a well in the centre. Pour most of the milk in at once. Using one hand, mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be softish, not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, turn it out onto a well floured worked surface.  WASH AND DRY YOUR HANDS.

Tidy it up and flip over gently. Pat the dough into a round about 1 1/2 inches (2.5cm) deep and cut a cross on it to let the fairies out! Let the cuts go over the sides of the bread to make sure of this.

Bake in a hot oven, 450ºF/Gas Mark 8 for 15 minutes, then turn down the oven to 400ºF/Gas Mark 6 for 30 minutes or until cooked. If you are in doubt, tap the bottom of the bread: if it is cooked it will sound hollow.

Cheddar Cheese Soda Bread

Egg wash the surface of the bread, mark into 6-8 wedges.  Scatter with 4oz (110g) grated cheddar cheese and bake as above.

White Soda Scones

Make the dough as above but flatten the dough into a round 1 inch (2.5cm) deep approx. Cut into scones. Cook for 20 minutes approx. in a hot oven (see above).

White Soda Bread with Herbs

Add 2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) of freshly chopped herbs (eg., rosemary or sage, thyme, chives, parsley, lemon balm) to the dry ingredients and continue as above.  Shape into a loaf or scones and bake as for soda bread.

Cheddar Cheese Scones or Herb and Cheese Scones

4 oz. (110g/1 cup) grated mature Cheddar cheese
Egg wash

Make the White Soda bread or herb dough. Stamp into scones, brush the top of each one with egg wash, and then dip into grated cheddar cheese, bake as for soda scones, or use to cover the top of a casserole or stew.

Cheddar Cheese and Thyme Leaf Scones

Substitute thyme leaves for mixed herbs in above recipe.

Rosemary and Olive Scones

Add 1 1/2 tablespoons (1 1/2 American tablespoons + 1 1/2 teaspoons) of chopped fresh rosemary, and 2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) roughly chopped stoned black olives to the dry ingredients and proceed as in the master recipe.

Rosemary and Sundried Tomatoes

Add 1-2 tablespoons (1-2 American tablespoons + 1-2 teaspoons) of chopped rosemary, 2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) of chopped sundried tomatoes to the flour and continue as in the basic recipe.  Form into a loaf of bread or scones.

Olive Scones

Make a white soda bread dough with or without herbs.  Flatten into a 1-inch (2 1/2 cm) square.  Dot the top with whole olives.  Brush generously with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, cut into square scones and bake as above.

Rosemary and Raisin

Add 3 oz. (75g) raisins and 2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) chopped rosemary to the basic recipe.

Curry and Sultana Bread

Add 1-2 teaspoons of curry powder and 3 oz. (75g) sultanas to the basic recipe.

Seedy Bread

Add 2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) of caraway seeds to the dry ingredients in the basic recipe.

American Emigrants Soda Bread

Add 3 oz. (75g) sultanas and 2 teaspoons caraway seeds, 1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) of sugar and 1 beaten egg to the above recipe.  Reduce the buttermilk by 2 fl oz. (50ml/1/4 cup).

For more info: