St. Patrick’s Day Irish Soda Bread Recipe

Creative Commons courtesy of Quimby
Creative Commons courtesy of Quimby

By jacquie olson

Baking with children can be a fun and terrific learning experience for them! Make this bread around St. Patrick’s Day while discussing Irish culture as a way to engage the children in a cultural experience. Allow the lesson to extend past culture by enlisting their help in measuring dry ingredients. Before you try the recipe, practice using measuring cups in a sensory bin filled with beans or rice. Buy a few extra sets of measuring cups so you can take the concept of measurements out of the kitchen. You can even use the measuring cups in the bathtub (water & bubbles), outside (dirt & sand) or even during art projects (paint & cotton balls). Just remember to keep kitchen measuring cups separate from play cups! While baking, you can ask age appropriate questions like “How many do we need?”, “Which is bigger: a cup or a 1/2 cup?”, or “What would happen if we halved the recipe?”. Along with actually measuring and mixing the ingredients, have children help you set the timer and talk about how much time it takes to bake. Older children might enjoy the science behind this recipe, so hunt for answers to questions like, “Why does the baking soda react with the milk?”. For smaller children, mixing the ingredients with a big wooden spoon might be the most exciting part!

Irish Soda Bread is traditionally served with hearty meals to soak up gravy. However, you might also enjoy it with some butter or jam. To make the bread a little sweeter and more appealing to children, I've included a list of optional ingredients.


  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (optional: you can skip this if you prefer sugar free soda bread)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 8-10 fluid ounces buttermilk or plain milk, to mix
  • Optional ingredients for a sweeter soda bread: 3 teaspoons sugar currants or golden raisins


  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. (Allow it to fully preheat before placing bread in the oven!)
  • In a large bowl, stir together the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, salt & baking soda. You want to be sure the baking soda is evenly distributed.
  • Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients that resembles a volcano. Pour about 3/4 of the milk into the well and begin to stir together, adding more milk as you need it. (This would be where you can add optional sweet ingredients). You want the dough to be soft and squishy.
  • Put some flour on a clean cutting board or counter top and flip the dough onto the surface. Flour your hands and begin to knead the dough. Work quickly and do not knead for more than 30 seconds. You want to work quickly so you can get the dough into the oven shortly after the baking soda and milk are combined.
  • Place the dough on a baking sheet, gently slice an "X" across the top of the dough, and bake for 45-55 minutes. Once baked, the bread should sound hollow when tapped.