Soda Bread

Soda Bread_edited.jpg

You'll find this recipe in:
Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management
by Isabella Beeton
London, England – 1861

Original Recipe:

1722. INGREDIENTS. - To every 2 lbs. of flour allow 1 teaspoonful of tartaric acid, 1 teaspoonful of salt, 1 teaspoonful of carbonate of soda, 2 breakfast-cupfuls of cold milk.

Mode. - Let the tartaric acid and salt be reduced to the finest possible powder; then mix them well with the flour. Dissolve the soda in the milk, and pour it several times from one basin to another, before adding it to the flour. Work the whole quickly into a light dough, divide it into 2 loaves, and put them into a well-heated oven immediately, and bake for an hour. Sour milk or buttermilk may be used, but then a little less acid will
be needed.
Time. - 1 hour.

My Recipe:

Makes one loaf – half of the historic recipe
2 ½ cups white flour – 454 g
½ tsp cream of tartar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
2 cups milk – 500 mL
butter or oil for greasing the loaf pan

1) Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C). Rub your loaf pan with butter or oil, then sprinkle in a spoonful of flour. Tap the pan with your hand, rotating the pan to distribute the flour evenly in a thin coat over the entire surface. Add more flour if needed and discard the excess. Adding flour makes a crustier bread, so you may skip this step and only butter the pan if you’d like.

2) Add the flour, cream of tartar and salt to a mixing bowl and stir to combine. Measure out the milk, and stir in the baking soda to dissolve before adding the milk to the flour mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until the flour is completely integrated. This is a wet dough, so don't be concerned if it looks mushier than most bread dough.

3) Bake in the oven for 45 – 60 minutes. You'll know that your soda bread is baked all the way through when the centre of the bread sounds hollow when tapped – it should sound like you’re knocking on a door.


Baking Soda Bread is a shortcut to eating fresh baked bread when you’re short on time. You’ll be spreading butter on a warm bread slice in about an hour and a half! This Soda Bread recipe, from the 1861 Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, is a favourite of mine because it produces a more moist and less dense soda bread than most recipes that I’ve tried. Soda bread doesn’t have the longevity of risen breads, so it will be toast (literally) sooner than later.

This is one of the recipes we made when I taught Open Hearth Cooking Classes at Nelles Manor Museum last autumn. We also made our own butter, so you can imagine how good this bread tasted! We used the museum’s dutch oven to bake the Soda Bread, so I’ve included some pictures that I took at Nelles Manor on a recipe testing day when I used the museum’s dutch oven for the first time.

Read the Cookbook

Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management has its own website:

Or peruse an original scanned copy on the Internet Archive: