Soda Bread

Episode 117: Rollin’ In Dough
Recipe: Soda Bread

When you’re pressed for time, soda bread is the prefect solution, since this Irish classic requires only a few minutes of work. In fact, if you turn on your oven before starting to combine the ingredients, the bread will be ready to bake by the time the oven reaches the right temperature. No rising is necessary — the dough must be baked immediately in order for the baking powder to work effectively.

Soda bread is conventionally made with buttermilk, but for convenience I achieve the same result with milk, using baking powder instead of the usual baking soda to compensate for the lack of acidity in the milk. If you want to make the classic version, substitute the same amounts of buttermilk and baking soda.

Covering the dough with an inverted stainless steel bowl during the first 30 minutes of baking creates a moist environment in which this heavy bread can rise. Then, after the bowl is removed, the crust of the bread hardens and browns.

Gros Pain, Long Proofed Baguette, Soda Bread

Makes 1 round loaf

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon canola oil

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Reserve 1 teaspoon of the flour, and combine the remaining flour with the salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Add the milk and mix gently but quickly with a wooden spatula or spoon until the dough comes together.

Oil a nonstick cookie sheet with the canola oil (or line a regular cookie sheet with parchment and brush with the oil), and place the dough on the sheet. Using a piece of plastic wrap, press and mold the dough to create a round loaf about 7 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick. Sprinkle the reserved teaspoon of flour on top of the loaf. Using a serrated knife, make 2 intersecting 1/4-inch-deep cuts across the top of the loaf to create a cross.

Place a stainless steel bowl upside down over the bread and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the bowl and bake for another 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Using a wide spatula, remove the bread to a rack. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

Copyright © 2011 by Jacques Pépin. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.


  • Nina

    I can’t wait to bake this bread. I saw his bread baking episode today on PBS and couldn’t believe how easy and quick this bread is to make. Just need to pick up some canola oil and regular milk (only have soy in the fridge right now) next trip to market. I love to bake, but have always avoided baking loaves of bread. This is so easy and looks delicious!

  • kay

    how was it?

  • Paul O’Curry

    Are you sure this is Soda Bread ? No Baking soda. If it is real Irish Soda Bread it is made with Whole Wheat Flour / white flour combo and buttermilk. Finishhed ith butter on top. No Canola !!

    • Adam Holland

      Baking Powder containst baking soda as an ingredient.

  • Sue

    I made soda bread this week. I used buttermilk and baking soda as mentioned. (If you want to make the classic version, substitute the same amounts of buttermilk and baking soda.) It was quick to made and the crumb is very tender. Don’t over mix it. Love it!!!

  • Maura Kelly

    Can’t wait to try it. This is pretty much the recipe my Irish born Mom used although she did it by rote – never looked at a recipe so this will help me since I didn’t have her “memorized” recipe. However, she just baked it without the stainless steel bowl and she used butter, not canola oil.

  • Jason

    It’s soda bread not nesacarryly Irish. Powder and soda are related. Read the text to see why he chose powder. I suppose it’s French Soda Bread.

  • Kris Mulkey @kmulkey007

    I watched your show yesterday (April 14th, 2012) where you made all these amazing easy breads. I can’t find the recipes here. Guess I’ll have to buy the book!  Hope you had fun at Pebble Beach. I was lucky to see you at the Aspen Food & Wine event years ago and just had a blast.

    I’ve got soda bread in the oven now. Can’t wait to eat it with dinner tonight!

  • Kris Mulkey @kmulkey007

    Just found all the recipes here that I was looking for! Thanks.

  • Cristina_vinnie

    I watched his show and he made it easy to bake bread

    • carlos vasquez

      Did you give it a try?

  • Mhellriegel

    love this show,everything easy and looks delicious

  • Beverley Collins

    Ok. I’ve just baked this (haven’t cut into it yet, but it looks beautiful). Easy recipe, helpful baking instructions, lovely rise and browning. If it tastes as good as it looks I’ll be back. I very rarely have buttermilk and I’ve had some unpleasantly soapy soda-breads from trying to guesstimate lemon juice or vinegar to sour the milk. This might be a happy solution to the problem.

  • jancanyon

    no caraway seeds, buttermilk, whole wheat flour, or soda? I would call this just a quick bread as it sure isn’t soda bread! Love Jacques anyway.

  • Larry Polk

    Can I use Bakewell Cream (soda and powder) in this recipe?