How to Make Holiday Soda Bread O’Rourke

In this episode of Food.Farmer.Earth, veteran pastry chef and owner of The Waffle Window, Mary O’Rourke, demonstrates a favorite holiday soda bread recipe. Below is the recipe from the video.

Holiday Soda Bread O’Rourke

Recipe By Mary O’Rourke

Holiday Soda Bread O'Rourke


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter -chilled, cubed
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 orange zest only
  • 4 tablespoons each: chocolate chips, pecans,
                            dried cranberries


  1. Preheat oven to 375.  Grease a cookie sheet where you will place the bread, or line the sheet with parchment.
  2. Grate the orange and add to the buttermilk.  Set aside.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and sugar. 
  4. Using a food processor or a pastry cutter or the 2 knife method, cut the chilled butter into the dry ingredients until the mix is the consistency of coarse crumbs. 
  5. Add the fruit and nut mix and toss gently. 
  6. Add the buttermilk and stir with a fork until the mixture is moistened throughout. 
  7. Knead the bread in the bowl to pick up all the dough, about 20 seconds or so.
  8. Form the dough into a slightly flattened ball about 7 inches in diameter.  Place on the prepared cookie sheet and brush the top with milk or cream. 
  9. Cut a cross in the top about 1/2 inch deep and stretching from side to side. 
  10. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the top is golden and the loaf sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom. 
  11. Let cool for 2 hours before slicing or it will be crumbly.  Or eat it hot, with butter, and don’t worry too much about how it looks!

Note: because the baking soda is activated by the acid of the buttermilk, you must get this into the oven as soon as possible after mixing.  Otherwise it will not rise satisfactorily.


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