Fruit and Nut Soda Bread

It was bread week on GBBO this week. My original intention was to bake one of the challenges each week. But I chickened out this week; I went for a bread that doesn’t need to be proved and is therefore more suited to a toddler’s attention span, namely soda bread. Yes we could have made the naan breads, but they didn’t seem like a bread that I could give to my kids as a snack so soda bread won.

In my excitement to get started I neglected to put an apron the aforementioned toddler or myself. The result was a little girl that resembled an exploded flour baby rather than my daughter and a me questioning how I managed to forget to give her an apron. I have cleared the surfaces, but I am postponing sweeping the floor by writing this and munching on my lunch. I am very good at procrastinating. I know though it will have to be done before the school run otherwise the boys will trample it all over the house and that will be more housework…

Soda bread is made without yeast. The bicarbonate of soda was traditionally activated with soured milk. Instead of soured milk, it is more common now to use either buttermilk or a mixture of milk and natural yoghurt. The iconic cross dividing the bread into quarters helps the bread cook through, but when reading many soda bread recipes, I learnt that traditionally it was said the let the fairies out. This makes me smile and that is how I will put it next time I am asked why we are scoring bread!

Ophelia had a lot of fun with this bread, pouring ingredients in and squishing and squashing the dough with my help to bring it all together. She was desperate to put her beloved apricots in it, but they didn’t make the cut this time. She wasn’t bothered for long when she saw the raisins and dried cranberries though. That is one good thing about the short attention span of a toddler!


  • 250g plain flour
  • 250g wholemeal flour
  • 100g oats
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1tsp salt
  • 25g butter
  • 500ml buttermilk
  • 2tbsp runny honey
  • 75g chopped nuts
  • 50g raisins
  • 50g dried cranberries


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°c fan.
  2. Put all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and gently mix to combine.
  3. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the bowl and rub in with your fingers.
  4. Add the buttermilk and honey and mix together with a table knife.
  5. Add the dried fruit and nuts and bring together fully with your hands. Do not overwork.
  6. Shape into a round about 20cm across and score a deep cross on the top.
  7. Put on a floured baking tray and cook for 30-35 minutes. It will sound hollow when you tap the bottom. If it doesn’t quite sound hollow return to the oven for a couple of minutes and keep a close eye on it.
  8. Put on a wire rack to cool and cover with a tea towel.

To serve you can break the bread into quarters and slice them into small pieces or you can simply slice across the whole loaf. This bread is best eaten fresh, we stored ours wrapped in a tea towel and in a Tupperware container. We had finished the loaf the day after making it!

Let me know if your little one enjoyed helping you make soda bread. Ophelia was very happy to take some to her brothers after school the day she made it. Oh and you will be delighted to hear that I also swept the floor before the school run thus preventing the kids from trampling the excess flour all over the house after school. It was a productive day.


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