March 17, 2010

Wonderful Wednesday Recipe: Pan Cooked Irish Soda Bread

Every cook should have a bevy of fail-safe recipes in their repertoire that can easily be whipped up in the blink of an eye. This spin on a true Irish classic is one such dish in my arsenal of “on the table in minutes” recipes that can be enjoyed long after the green beer of St. Paddy’s has stopped flowing.

Utilizing just four ingredients, this recipe naturally lends itself to variation. You can easily enhance it with a handful of your favourite fresh herbs (chives are wonderful here), dried fruit (cranberries or blueberries, for example), spices, cooked and crumbled bacon, or a couple of tablespoons of jam or fruit preserves swirled through the uncooked batter.

This wonderfully simple and deeply delicious recipe resonates with the spirit of Irish cooking and pairs just as beautifully with other Celtic flavours (think cabbage, gammon, leeks) as it does with dishes from other ethnic backgrounds. I love this hearty soda bread alongside barbequed foods, corn on the cob or simply paired with a flavourful salad for lunch or a light supper (it’s also rather spectacular spread, while still piping warm, with homemade peach jam).

I’ll be firing up the stovetop and cooking a pan of this classic soda bread with a slight twist, tonight as an accompaniment to soup made with the first tender spring vegetables that are starting to appear at the market, baked potatoes, and blackberry sorbet for our celebratory March 17th dinner.

Wishing everyone a delightfully festive St. Patrick’s Day that’s as bright and enjoyable as a spectacular Irish rainbow!

Pan Cooked Irish Soda Bread


•1 cup buttermilk

•½ tsp fine sea or kosher salt

•1 tsp baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)

•1 cup self-rising flour


Combine all ingredients together in a mixing bowl then turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead the dough with your hands for about 4 minutes, then shape into an 8-inch (wide) ball. Dust the blade of a sharp knife with flour and slice the ball in four equal sized quarters.

Heat a non-stick griddle or frying pan over medium high heat (if your stovetop veers on the really hot side, “medium” heat may be sufficient) and place the 4 dough portions in the pan (note, if you don’t have a non-stick pan, use a cast iron griddle or heavy bottomed frying pan in which you melt a tbsp of butter before placing the dough into the pan).

Cook the soda bread for about 5 minutes on each side, ensuring that it’s cooked through evenly. You will want to watch it carefully and check often to make sure that the bread in not getting too dark for your taste (if it’s browning before you feel it’s cooked through, reduce the heat).

As soon as this rustically lovely soda bread is finished cooking, transfer it from the pan to a serving plate and bring to the table, complete with plenty of creamy butter (if you can find actual Irish butter, all the better!), and commence eating at once.

Wrap any leftovers in brown paper and then plastic wrap, store in a cool spot for up to two days.

Makes 4 side dish sized portions of soda bread.

Erin Go Bragh!


  1. Great recipe. The picture is gorgeous!

    Best Wishes,

  2. If I had buttermilk i'd make this right now..Alas I do not, but the corned beef and cabbage is simmering merrily away as I type. I too am a vintage lover and have been since l969 when I started to collect. Those were the days!!!!! Thrift stores then were paradise...I sell antiques in Santa Monica, and wear vintage clothes and still find good stuff. Come on over and see me. Something different everyday..I am a follower although it doesn't look like you need anymore...Cynthia Wolff

  3. Wow, bread cooked in a pan! how interesting.
    And such a pretty st patrics day sparkley lady :)


  4. I love soda bread. we made at the bakery I use to work at. mmm.

  5. This sounds yummy! Definitely saving this one. =]
    -Andi x

  6. Could you substitute store bought self-rising flour with a homemade self-rising flour ( say Spelt flour ) and a teaspoon of baking powder? I like to use ancient grains as opposed to modern--- to avoid GMO. This looks great not having to use the oven and heat up the kitchen, especially in the summer.

    1. Hi Bella, I think that would most likely work wonderfully. I have celiac disease myself, so all glutinous flours are out for me, and I've had good success with a modified version of this recipe using a storebought GF flour blend and plenty (2 tsp) of baking powder.

      Happy soda bread making & many thanks for your comment,
      ♥ Jessica