It’s St Patrick’s Day today, so what better time to have children in the kitchen baking. This Irish soda bread recipe is so simple, my 9-year-old does it completely on her own – though I am on standby to make sure the hot baking tray doesn’t end up on a meltable surface afterwards! You should know, however, that there are endless recipes for ‘proper’ Irish soda bread – probably as many as there are mother’s making it!
I’m told by the Irish side of my multi-cultural blood line that when baking Irish Soda Bread – certainly in the south of Ireland – you have to cut a cross on the top of the bread to allow the fairies out or ward of evil to protect the household. We certainly don’t want to be baking fairies!
If you’re intersted in some history, it was actually Native American’s who first made soda bread, but during the widespread famine , the history of Irish soda bread began in the 1830s, when baking soda, or bicarbonate soda, was first introduced to the country.
Bread had to be made out of the most basic and cheapest ingredients available, which for the time and the climate were soft flour, salt, baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) and sour milk (buttermilk is more commonly used today). Since yeast wasn’t readily available, the combination of baking soda and buttermilk acted – and still does act – as the leavening agent, causing the bread to rise.
Bizarely, these days, it’s buttermilk that we don’t tend to have on hand, so if you don’t you can use a cup (250ml) of milk and add 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Set aside for 15 minutes and use in place of buttermilk. The lemon juice and baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) create the reaction that makes the bread rise.
These recipe cards are great for independent, step-by-step baking for children. With the instructions being on seperate cards it encourages children to follow the recipes in a systematic way, without jumping ahead or getting lost in a long list of instructions.
You can purchase the printable recipe cards here.
We like to laminate ours and use a keyring to keep them together.
- 500g plain flour
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 400ml whole milk
- Juice of one lemon
- 2 tsp honey
- Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.
- Mix together the milk and lemon juice in a small mixing bowl and wait 10 minutes until it becomes buttermilk.
- Meanwhile, mix together the flour, salt and bicarb in the large mixing bowl.
- Add the honey.
- Pour the buttermilk into the flour mixture and stir until it forms a sticky dough.
- Tip the dough onto a floured baking tray and using well-floured hands, shape it into a ball.
- Use the sharp knife to cut a deep cross over the top of the bread. (This will stop it from splitting in the oven.)
- Put in the oven and bake for 30 - 40 mins. (You can tap the top of the bread – if it sounds hollow, it’s ready!)
- Serve warm with butter.
Loved this? Try some of our other Recipe Cards for Kids