Can you beat a slice of soda bread with butter?

Author of The Irish Cookbook, Jp McMahon explains how “bicarbonate of soda helped to feed bread to a generation of soldiers at war in Europe and afar. It is the bread we are most familiar with in Ireland,” he adds. “Many say this was because of the coarse flour in Ireland. Bicarbonate of soda suited it better than yeast.


“My own grandmother would make similar bread every second or third day. It is a tradition worth continuing.”

Brown soda bread with stout and treacle
(Phaidon/Anita Murphy/Zania Koppe/PA)
Brown soda bread with stout and treacle
Print Recipe
Nutrition Facts
Brown soda bread with stout and treacle
Amount Per Serving
Calories 248 Calories from Fat 27
% Daily Value*
Fat 3g5%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Cholesterol 21mg7%
Sodium 607mg26%
Potassium 374mg11%
Carbohydrates 48g16%
Fiber 5g21%
Sugar 10g11%
Protein 9g18%
Vitamin A 97IU2%
Calcium 88mg9%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Brown soda bread with stout and treacle

Traditional Irish bread with a twist
Cook Time1 hour 45 minutes
Course: Breakfast, Side Dish
Cuisine: Irish
Servings: 20 slices
Calories: 248kcal
Author: Jp McMahon


  • Two 23 × 13 × 7cm loaf pans
  • Large mixing bowl


  • Rapeseed oil for greasing
  • 800 g strong brown (wholewheat) bread flour
  • 200 g strong white bread flour
  • 1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 20 g sea salt
  • 3 handfuls of mixed seeds (such as pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and linseeds/flaxseed)
  • 200 g treacle
  • 2 eggs
  • 850 ml buttermilk
  • 200 ml stout
  • 50 g pinhead oats for the topping


  • Preheat the oven to 130°C/265°F/ Gas Mark 3⁄4. Grease two 23 × 13 × 7-cm loaf pans.
  • Stir all the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Add the treacle, eggs and buttermilk and combine, then add enough stout until you achieve a wet dough.
  • Pour the dough into the two prepared loaf pans, sprinkle the oats on top and bake in the preheated oven for one hour 30 minutes to one hour 45 minutes, until the loaves sound hollow when the bottoms are tapped or the core temperature is greater than 85°C/185°F on a meat thermometer.


Calories: 248kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 607mg | Potassium: 374mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 97IU | Calcium: 88mg | Iron: 2mg

The Irish Cookbook by Jp McMahon, photography and styling by Anita Murphy and Zania Koppe, is published by Phaidon.

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