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Ireland: Traditional Irish Soda Bread Without Buttermilk

Thousands of people visit our site each year looking for a way to make real Irish soda bread without buttermilk. Their reasons vary: they may not be able to get buttermilk locally, or someone in the family may not like it.

If you're one of these people: we can help you! And if you're concerned about the lack of buttermilk making the soda bread less traditional -- sure, you won't be making it exactly as it was made at the hearthside two hundred years ago. But there are lots of people in modern Ireland who either don't like butftermilk, or don't care whether it's in their bread or not. Only about half the loaves of soda bread in the modern Irish grocery bother mentioning their buttermilk content on the wrapper (if they contain any at all: not all do). And the difference in flavor when soda bread's made with sweet milk rather than buttermilk doesn't seem to be enough to outrage the local sensibilities. If it's OK enough for the native Irish, than it should be OK for you... so don't let anybody give you guilt about this.

Please note, though: if you don't mind the buttermilk but just can't obtain it, we can also tell you how to make your own buttermilk from scratch, or how to fake it. You might want to try one of those methods, and then apply what you get to our classic Irish soda bread recipe.

Here's the basic recipe for white soda bread without buttermilk.

All these measures are approximate. The flour's volume and liquid-absorptive capabilities, in particular, will vary depending on the local humidity, so you might find you need to use a little more or a little less..

  • 450 g / 1 lb / 3 1/2 cups flour (either cake flour or all-purpose, but cake flour is better)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (optional: you can absolutely omit this if you prefer sugar free soda bread)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 heaping teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 level teaspoon baking powder
  • Between 200-300 ml / 8-10 fluid ounces milk, to mix

Now all you have to do is visit our main soda bread page to work out which of the two traditional styles of soda bread you're making (cake or farl) and then follow the baking instructions. There are also video tutorials below for you to look at if you feel the need.

Happy baking!


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