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.

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