Brown Soda Bread and Homemade Butter

Brown Soda Bread and Homemade Butter ~ this traditional Irish soda bread is made with a few simple ingredients ~ no yeast, and no kneading ~ and it bakes up into an gorgeous crusty artisan loaf. Pair it with my easy homemade butter and you’ve got an epic treat!

I think one of the charms of these recipes is how quick and easy they are. You don’t need to do any advance planning or prep work to have hot bread and fresh butter on the table for dinner. This soda bread is really close to being a biscuit or a scone; the only difference is that it doesn’t have the rich butter content. Think of it as a more healthy alternative to a biscuit… either that or a really good excuse to slather on lots of butter to make up the difference!

My previous experience with soda bread was not good. I last made it years and years ago, probably with white flour, and it was unimpressive, so I never touched it again. But I think here the whole wheat flour makes a difference. As does really good butter. This is not fancy or highly flavored bread, it’s a basic food for hungry people. If you make it right before dinner and serve it hot out of the oven, it’s wonderful.

This bread is as easy as weighing your flour, whisking in the soda and salt, and pouring in the buttermilk.

You don’t even really knead it, more like push it around on a floured counter just till it just holds together.

Slash a big X across the top and you’re ready to go.

Don’t forget the butter! It’s as easy as 1 2 3!

Beat heavy cream until it solidifies into crumbles of butter.

Then drain away the whey and strain through cheesecloth.

You’re left with fresh creamy butter!

4.17 from 6 votes

Brown Soda Bread and Homemade Butter

Brown Soda Bread and Homemade Butter ~ this traditional Irish soda bread is made with a few simple ingredients ~ no yeast, and no kneading ~ and it bakes up into an gorgeous crusty artisan loaf.  Pair it with my easy homemade butter and you've got an epic treat!
Course bread
Cuisine Irish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Author Sue Moran



  • 2 cups all-purpose flour about 9 ounces
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour about 9 1/2 ounces (I used 18 1/2 oz of white whole wheat flour)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • I snuck in a Tbsp of brown sugar
  • 2 cups buttermilk


  • 2 cups heavy cream


  • Set oven to 450F
  • Weigh out your flour or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Make a well in center of mixture. Add buttermilk to flour mixture; stir until blended (dough will be sticky). Turn dough out onto a generously floured surface; knead lightly 4 to 5 times.
  • Shape dough into an 8-inch round loaf; place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Cut a 1/4-inch-deep X in the top of the dough.
  • Bake at 450F for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 400° (do not remove bread from oven); bake 15 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.

How to make butter

  • Put the heavy cream in a bowl and beat it as you would for whipped cream. Only keep beating. As you go, you will reach the regular whipped cream stage, then it will go beyond that into a kind of overly thick stage, and finally into a seperated state of curds and whey. Add a sprinkling of salt at this time.
  • Drain the butter in a cheesecloth lined strainer for a few minutes, and then pick up the cheesecloth and squeeze out as much liquid as you can from the butter. That leftover liquid is buttermilk, save it to make scones!
  • Transfer the butter into a container, smooth it down, and store.

Cook's notes

  • Don't overwork the bread, the dough is meant to be shaggy.
  • Brown bread is best hot out of the oven, so go ahead, don't be shy!
*This recipe is from Darina Allen
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

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  • Reply
    July 23, 2020 at 3:37 pm

    I have made soda bread in the past, with white flour, and honestly, fresh out of the oven, it tastes like a crusty loaf of yeast bread. But about the butter, my mom was a farm girl, and she once told me that to make butter, you had to let the cream set out over night, which is why real cultured butter has a slight tang to it. The whey that is left after the butter is churned, is, as you said, buttermilk. But real buttermilk is tangy. Is the buttermilk you get off of making your butter, tangy like that? I’ve made butter like you do, before, but I always dumped the liquid, so I don’t know. If it’s not, don’t you need something to sour the milk, to react with the baking soda? (I never have buttermilk on hand, so I just add a little vinegar or lemon juice to regular milk when a recipe calls for buttermilk). Your site is amazing! Thanks!

    • Reply
      July 23, 2020 at 5:35 pm

      It’s funny because the cultured buttermilk i buy in the supermarket is lovely, thick and flavorful…nothing like the whey that is leftover from butter making in my experience. I like your idea of leaving the cream out overnight before making the butter, I’ll definitely try that, thanks!

  • Reply
    Rolling Pin Claire
    March 13, 2012 at 9:59 am

    Sue, Darina is definitely the queen of Irish cooking, possibly in the same way as Martha is (or was!) in the US and Delia is in the UK. She has spent her whole life championing local, fresh, in-season food and bringing us back to “the land” in terms of reducing our reliance on processed food to fresh organic food. One of the most well respected chefs and authors in Ireland – and rightly so!

  • Reply
    March 12, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    This bread looks absolutely delicious! I’ve never made soda bread before, but it looks so lovely and simple that I am definitely going to have to try it soon!

  • Reply
    Hungry Dog
    March 11, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    I have a lot of buttermilk to use up, this bread is going to make an appearance in our house very soon!

  • Reply
    Taryn (Have Kitchen, Will Feed)
    March 10, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    I love this – basic food for basic people.

  • Reply
    March 10, 2012 at 8:23 am

    soda bread needs to be wholemeal or a mixture I think, and this looks heavenly! And…how amazing are you making your own butter??? Have a great weekend x

  • Reply
    Magnolia Verandah
    March 10, 2012 at 6:24 am

    I have read about Darina and her daughter in law some years ago. What wonderful bread and butter. Thanks for the inspiration as always.

  • Reply
    March 10, 2012 at 8:15 am

    This recipe definitely symbolizes all that Ms. Allen represents. Wouldn’t we all love to bake it in her ovens in her cooking school in the Irish countryside.

  • Reply
    Veronica Gantley
    March 9, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    I think your bead looks much better than mine. I will have to try my hand at making butter. I am so glad we are doing this game changer series together.

  • Reply
    Sulpicia (III)
    March 10, 2012 at 1:17 am

    Looks delicious! I haven’t made soda bread since I was a little kid and I’ve mostly been focusing on yeasted breads, but I should definitely try this.

    I found that although white whole wheat is good for replacing white flour in things like cookies, it makes bread with a flavor that is neither as complex nor as pleasurable as red whole wheat (although, obviously, red whole wheat produces a heavier, slightly bitter loaf without a sweetener). Did you find that you liked the taste of the white whole wheat in the soda bread?

  • Reply
    Vianney Rodriguez
    March 10, 2012 at 12:55 am

    Sue, seriously drooling here!! tI have always wanted to try making soda bread, love the ease of this recipe…anf the homemade butter, divine! so easy and I bet the flavor is fresh. great pics!

  • Reply
    March 9, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    Amazing, never thought of making my own butter. I will try it for sure! Thanks. 🙂

  • Reply
    March 9, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    I want a big hunk of that gorgeous soda bread with some homemade butter for slathering on heavily. Looks amazing, Sue!!

  • Reply
    March 9, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    Hah! I never knew that’s how buttermilk’s made. I’m sure Darina would’ve pooh-poohed me and given me a little figurative slap on the wrist for not being aware of such basics. But, it sure is fun to learn like this because I get to drool at pictures at the same time.

  • Reply
    March 9, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    Wonderful write up Sue! Fun that so many of us made soda breads…and they all look different. Love the butter you are so clever! What could be better than homemade butter with hot from the oven soda bread??

  • Reply
    March 9, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    Sue, Such a wonderful post! Your bread looks perfectly beautiful! The butter looks so soft and creamy! I’m seeing beautiful breads all over the web today and they have inspired me! My grandson just asked this week if we could make butter…I sent a link for your blog to my daughter-in-law. You made it look so easy. Have a great weekend!

  • Reply
    March 9, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    I love the instructions for making butter :-). The bread also sounds wonderful and I really liked the way you presented her biography. Have a wonderful weekend. Blessings…Mary

  • Reply
    Sue/the view from great island
    March 9, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    Susan—I completely agree, the soda bread was best warm from the oven. I gnawed on a piece of it this morning and it just wasn’t the same. I think we Americans are just too used to rich breads to be able to appreciate it!

  • Reply
    Sue/the view from great island
    March 9, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    Mireya—I should have weighed it, and now 1/2 of it’s gone 😉 I think I got about the equivalent of a stick of butter, so that would be 4 oz, maybe a bit more. Worth it, though, for guests, or to do with kids.

  • Reply
    March 9, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    This sounds good right now. With a bowl of thick chowder, I’d be in heaven. Plenty of butter is always my requirement with soda bread. 🙂

  • Reply
    March 9, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    This sounds good right now. With a bowl of thick chowder, I’d be in heaven. Plenty of butter is always my requirement with soda bread. 🙂

  • Reply
    A Trifle Rushed
    March 9, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    Now you know why soda bread is my favourite, it’s fantastic to bake, even after a day at work.
    In Brittany we never eat a lobster or crab without soda bread, and it’s great with fish pates and smoked salmon.
    I’m a great fan of Darina Allen, and her daughter in law Rachel, both are inspiring cooks and I’d love to go and take a course there sometime. Jude x

  • Reply
    Susan Lindquist
    March 9, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    Totally impressed with you and the bread and butter post! Your rustic brown soda bread is just a thing of beauty! I always think soda bread is best eaten right up while it’s warm. Mine never keeps well, even if I dress it up with raisins or currants.

    Making the butter was such a neat addition to this nod to Darina Allen! Great post!

  • Reply
    March 9, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    What a hearty and tasty looking loaf. And, I love your homemade butter as well.

  • Reply
    March 9, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    What a nice simple rustic bread to honor Darina Allen by. Lovely write up.

  • Reply
    Mireya @myhealthyeatinghabits
    March 9, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    What a great post about Darina and I loved the butter making tutorial. Did you actually get 8 ounces of butter from 2 cups of cream?

  • Reply
    Tricia @ saving room for dessert
    March 9, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    We loved Ireland and want to go back one day. I could actually live on bread and butter. Your’s look incredible. You really know how to make me happy with such posts! I am so interested in making butter, ok and eating butter 🙂 Have a lovely weekend!

  • Reply
    March 9, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Well, we made almost the same thing, though my whole wheat to white flour ratio is 3 to 1. My white soda bread is shaped like your brown and I do love that shape, though the loaf is a bit easier to use for sandwiches. The butter, which I made by mistake once, is great and you caught the process perfectly.
    Thanks, Sue!

  • Reply
    Sarah (Snippets of Thyme)
    March 9, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    This is wonderful learning about his farm in Ireland. I think of our trip every single day and how much I would love to wander those little country lanes again and eat brown bread at every meal with some sort of fish stew. Sigh…sigh again…Your bread looks so delicious. I love the heartiness of a heavier bread.

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