Six-seed Soda Bread Recipe

Inspired by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's soda bread recipe, this version is made with a blend of spelt flour and all-purpose flour. The dough is littered with seeds - sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, flax seeds, and fennel seeds. It bakes into a perfect, rustic, crusty loaf of bread with relatively little effort.

Six-seed Soda Bread

I finally had a chance to sit down this morning and sort through the pile of notes, menus, books, and magazines I brought back from my trip to Portland. There is a loaf of six-seed soda bread baking in the oven, a slab of butter on the counter waiting for it. I was thinking I'd share some highlights (and a couple photos) from the trip to Oregon, write up the soda bread recipe for you, then give the pot of left-over soup waiting on the back burner the signal that it's time for lunch.

Six Seed Soda Bread Recipe

If you find yourself planning a trip to Portland, you can have a look at some of the places I visited the last time I was there. I revisited a few of those on this trip, and made it to a handful of new places as well. There are also lots of great suggestions from you all in the comments section.

Six Seed Soda Bread Recipe

One of the highlights of the trip was getting outside Portland a bit. The area surrounding the city is beautiful, and we spent an entire day driving along two-lane back roads, pulling over to see waterfalls, gorges, bridges, small towns, and off-beat houses for sale. Here's a shot where Wayne surprised me while I was taking the previous picture.

Six Seed Soda Bread Recipe

On the food front, I continue to love lunch at Clyde Common, and would go back there everyday if proximity permitted. They had a buttermilk-dressed wheat berry salad on the menu that stole my heart, and an Upright Brewing Co. Farmhouse Rye Ale on tap that stole my craving for any other beer that week.

We popped over to the Little Red Bike Cafe early one morning - had fantastic coffee, a hearty breakfast, and a nice chat with Evan before heading out in the rain, and then went to stock up on an unreasonable amount of salt at The Meadow, again. Moxie Rx wasn't open during our stay, but Nancye (the owner) is an old friend of ours, and we were able to meet up with her for brunch the next day at Tasty & Sons. Also loved Navarre - their pearled farro, red celery, and parsley salad in particular. Another night we walked from the hotel downtown to Indish, and had one of the best, and most thoughtfully prepared Indian meals I've had in some time - bright, fresh, flavorful - really great.

I packed my suitcase with a number of books and publications to bring home. I bought the new issue of MIX, a smartly-done magazine focusing on Portland's food and drink culture (here's a link to their subscribe page in case you're interested). I snagged a copy of Edible Portland, a copy of Reza Mahammad's Rice, Spice, and all Things Nice, and a copy of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage everyday.

Six Seed Soda Bread Recipe

The soda bread recipe in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's book jumped out at me the first time I flipped through the pages. I make soda bread quite often (my favorite is actually a rye version) - it comes together in no time, with a small handful of ingredients, and you can have a loaf in the oven in under ten minutes. With a few minor tweaks to his recipe, I've also been enjoying Hugh's seeded, whole-grain flour version over the past couple of weeks. This soda bread is made with a blend of spelt flour and all-purpose flour, the dough is littered with seeds - sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, flax seeds, and fennel seeds. It takes on a nice crunchy crust, finished with more seeds on top. I like it in the morning slathered with bit of farmers cheese drizzled with honey, for lunch (like today) along with a bowl of soup, and leftovers make good croutons. If you're convinced you can't bake bread, I'd like to encourage you to give this a shot - at the very least you'll be out a bit of flour, some buttermilk, baking soda and some seeds. The upshot is you'll be able to make fresh bread any time you like.

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Six-seed Soda Bread Recipe

I've been enjoying this combination of seeds, but feel free to experiment with other combinations if you prefer, based on what you have on hand, or what is available in your area. You can also make this with whole-wheat flour in place of the spelt flour.

2 1/2 tablespoons EACH sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds,
poppy seeds, flax seeds

1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 3/4 cup / 9 oz / 250 g spelt flour
2 cups / 9 oz / 250 g unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 3/4 cup / 14 oz / 400 ml buttermilk
a bit of extra buttermilk/milk

Preheat your oven to 400F / 205C. Place a rack in the center of the oven. In a small bowl combine all the seeds and set aside.

Sift the flours, baking soda, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Stir in all but 2 tablespoons of the seeds. Make a well in the flour, pour in the buttermilk, and stir until the dough just comes together. If you need to add an extra splash of buttermilk because the dough is too dry, you can. As Hugh says, "Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly for about a minute, just long enough to pull it together into a loose ball but no longer - you need to get it into the oven while the baking soda is still doing its stuff."

Place the dough on a lightly floured baking sheet and mark it with a deep cross across the top, cutting two-thirds of the way through the loaf with a serrated knife. Brush with buttermilk and sprinkle with the remaining seeds, making sure plenty of seeds make it down into the cracks.

Bake for 35 - 40 minutes, or until the bread is golden crusted on top and bottom (you may want to move the oven rack up for the last 15 minute if you need more color on the top of the loaf). Cool on a wire rack.

Makes a single loaf.

Adapted from River Cottage everyday by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, published by Bloomsbury.

Prep time: 10 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Looking at off-beat houses for sale!? You're not leaving SF, I hope! Though if I left, I'd be checking out Portland for sure too. Is there anything you're not telling us? Not like we have a right to know, but still :-) HS: Hi Eve, As much as I love Portland, I think SF will be my home for some time to come. I love looking at neat properties for sale in other cities though :)


We are in Portland often, as my brother lives there. I have a serious weakness for Italian, and specifically a place called Gino's on 13th in Sellwood (it is in the old Lipzeig Tavern). They use local, sustainable ingredients. Their menu only has 4-5 regular items on it, the rest depends on what they can get from their farmers that week. Amazing food, amazing people working there, such a great vibe overall, and best of all, supporting local farmers!

D. Smith

Love it when we get to see a different, and definitely more interesting, perspective of Multnomah Falls! Beautiful!!

Dina Avila

was in portland at the same time for a graduation. stayed a bit longer and was able to spend some alone, quality time with my brother which is very rare as you get older. I am from NM so drizzly, rainy weather is such a treat. Didn't go to any of these places, but spent an entire morning in our PJs drinking coffee (coffee tastes so good in rainy NW) just talking and laughing. Went to Joe's Crab Shack. Yes, I know it is a is across the river but the view of the Columbia River, the bridge, the rain was to die for.


I actually think I have all the ingredients to make this tonight! I didn't have a chance to comment on your last entry, but I think the book cover is lovely and I truly can't wait to have a SNC sister book. I also just received my first order of Rancho Gordo heirloom beans. I bought the cannelinis with the carrot, white bean and dill salad in mind and was delighted that you decided to pull that same recipe from the archives. It was absolutely delicious. Can't wait to try this bread, either. Thank you once again.

Anne Marie

@Pamela: As long as you're chewing the flax seeds to break their outer husks, your body should be able to digest them (; just get to chompin' ! But you're right, the stomach can't digest whole seeds by itself. I can't wait to rush home after work and make this, Heidi! Your photographs are beautiful, as always.


Gorgeous pictures - never been to Portland, but its definitely on the list! I love soda breads...I often make with homemade yogurt and love how its a bread that you can start and finish in time for breakfast. Love all the seediness.


Thanks for another wonderful reipe, Heidi. Any ideas on how to replace buttermilk for the vegan palate? Also, for Pamela B--I always just add ground flax to a recipe for the nutrional value and still add the flax seed if it is called for. Two for the price of one, so to speak!


I know I should comment first on the recipe, and it does look good...but the photos are thing that caught my eye. Just the way I pictured the Giants Bridge on Ettinsmoor in The Silver Chair by C.S.Lewis. Wonderful bridge, wonderful photos. Well done.


The seeds make it! And I've decided just now that I will be putting these seeds on everything for a little while--everything edible, that is. Thanks!

Enchanted Fig

I'm a big fan of Hugh Fearnsley-Wittingstall (plus I just love saying his name). Glad you had a great trip to Portland. If I didn't live near Seattle, I'd have to say Portland would be my next choice. Soup's on for me as well -- Roasted pumpkin!

tom | tall clover

Heidi, you never stop to surprise us with the best recipes ever. I definitely will give a try to this bread, but I will substitute the spelt flour for kamut flour because is the one I can more easily find. ps. I loved Wayne's picture.


anyone know a good substitute for the flour in this?? I'm a new gluten-free person (I'm intolerant not celiac) and am seriously missing soda bread so this recipe is killing me. Any help would be appreciated!


I recently discovered that our bodies cannot digest whole flax seeds...they go through our systems intact. In order to get the nutritional benefit from flax, the seeds need to be ground before using. The whole seeds in this bread would add character, but no nutrition. Once again, Heidi, another recipe calling to me to be made! On another note...I made the "Tasty Asparagus with Brown Rice" last week (came home with two+ lbs of asparagus) and had was savoring the first bites when my teen daughter walked in the front door to pick up something (she was house/pet sitting for her older sister who was on her honeymoon) and as she walked by, she stopped for a taste. Her immediate response was "that's good" and continuing to chew, "that's GOOD" with a "THAT'S GOOD!" after swallowing. Went on to get what she stopped for & headed for the door, hesitated, then turned back to the kitchen, took out a container & dished up a portion to take with her, stating "I was wondering what to do for lunch...thanks, Mom!" She gave a final "This is really good" and she was gone. Thanks, Heidi! It WAS really good!!


To make this 100% whole grain, what is your thoughts if I replace all-purpose flour for white whole wheat flour? Also, what is a good flavorless oil for baking, i.e., quick breads? I've been using extra light olive oil, but I can still taste the olive taste in my baking


looks great! i still haven't made that seeded flatbread you posted a while back, and have it bookmarked to remind me. i've never been to portland. we're thinking of starting there and heading down the PCH for vacay this year, but that won't have us in portland for long!

heather @ chiknpastry

Lovely photos! Thanks for sharing some Portland eating places!


I can NOT get over how beautiful your pictures ALWAYS ARE! Breathtaking!!

Annie D. @ Annie'sSimpleLife

This looks delciious.. I have a large bag of whole wheat flour I'm trying to finish off.. can that be used in place of the all-pupose flour as well as the spelt flour? Thanks!


I've shied away from making rye bread because of the yeast component, and given its natural density I was afraid what would transpire would be a fiber weighted brick. I'm glad to see this recipe, and I'm looking forward to trying it. Glad to see that you're encouraging the use of flaxseeds. Also, thank you, thank you for posting such inspiring pictures of Portland and a helpful guide. I've been trying convince my significant other to make it out there for a change of scenery. I now have a great post to point the many lovely aspects of this idyllic coastal city.

Christine @ Fresh Local and Best

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