Six Seed Soda Bread

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 a trip to Portland, Oregon. There is a loaf of six-seed soda bread baking in the oven, plus a slab of butter on the counter waiting for it. I always stock up on books when traveling and on this trip 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 Every Day.

close-up photo of seeded soda bread

Soda Bread: Inspiration

The soda bread recipe in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's book jumped out at me immediately as I flipped through the pages. I make soda bread quite often (my favorite is a rye version), in part because soda bread comes together in no time, with just a small handful of ingredients. You can have a loaf in the oven in under ten minutes.

With a few tweaks to his recipe, I've been enjoying Hugh's seeded, multi-grain flour version. His soda bread is made with a blend of spelt flour and all-purpose flour, the dough is absolutely littered with seeds - sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, flax seeds, and fennel seeds. The fennel is a nice wildcard, and the whole loaf takes on a nice crunchy crust with lots of bonus seeds on top.

medley of six different seeds combines in a glass jar

A Few Ways To Enjoy Soda Bread

This bread is fantastic in the morning slathered with bit of farmers cheese drizzled with honey. It is ideal along with a hot, hearty bowl of soup. And, tossed with a bit of olive oil and baked a second time,  leftovers make good croutons.

If you're convinced you can't bake bread, I encourage you to give this a shot. Because it doesn't rely on It's the perfect bread for beginning bakers, 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!

flours and seeds in mixing bowl to make soda bread

Six Seed Soda Bread: Variations

  • Rolls!: Adriana says,"I made this bread on Saturday, instead of a big loaf I made 8 rolls… today it’s Tuesday, there’s no bread left! They are so great after my morning run or with some butternut squash soup… delicious!”
  • Vegan Rye Version:  Joana helpfully talks though her swaps to make a version without buttermilk,”I’m eating a warm slice of this bread as I type. I did a few tweaks to the recipe that should be worth mentioning: as I didn’t have spelt flour, I substituted rye flour; and because I’m a vegan, I substituted the buttermilk for rice milk mixed with lemon juice (1 tablespoon lemon juice for 3/4 cup of milk). It turned out super yummy!”

soda bread dough on a baking sheet prior to baking

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Six Seed Soda Bread

5 from 2 votes

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

  2. 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.
  3. 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."
  4. 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.
  5. 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 Every Day by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, published by Bloomsbury.

Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
50 mins
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Recipe Rating


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.


oh and Limbo for the Wall of herbs, bulk herbs and tea (over 700!)


Fennel seeds taste so wonderful when the bread is toasted. I make a seven grain bread with fennel. The aroma stimulates the appetite!


Yum! This would be such an upgrade next St. Patrick's Day.

Coco @ Opera Girl Cooks

That bread is positively gorgeous. Total showstopper.

The Nervous Cook

This soda bread recipe is unreal looking. It's literally perfect, I'm envious of your photos.


This seeded version of soda bread has me salivating. Here's some interesting foodlore re soda bread: the Irish customarily made the cross in dough before baking to "let the angels out" to help it rise.

Andrea @ Fork Fingers Chopsticks

was just about to nod off at my desk when i came accross this image...brightened my day thinking about the smells toasty seedy bread mmm

af @ .the food.

Oh my, that looks amazing!

Simply Life

Love this recipe...just a warning about the sunflower seeds which turn green...a brilliant green as a reaction to the soda....doesn't affect the taste but it kind of freaks you out the first time you see it...

Kathy Scott

Dear Heidi, Love your pictures and this soda bread looks amazing. Thanks every so much.


@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.


I love multi-grain breads! (Though their "healthiness" may be just a little overrated... remember that multigrain doesn't equal whole grain! Not in this case, though. :D) I love their texture and the big crunch of the seeds on top. It looks absolutely lovely! :) Wei-Wei


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!!


This looks so great! I like the idea of adding fennel seeds to soda bread. I add currants to mine when I want to make it special. Thanks for the new spin. :)

A Teenage Gourmet

This recipe looks very easy to make. I can't wait to try it. I love earthy breads! Thanks for sharing the recipe.

Cynthia McIntyre

I love soda bread and will be printing this one with the seeds.

shannon abdollmohammadi

Wow. Wow. Wow. And did I Can't wait to toast some of this and top with avocado. Thanks:)

the French

I can just imagine this with a thick layer of fresh butter on - delicious! One thing: buttermilk isn't that easy to come by in the UK; as a substitute I use very low fat yoghurt (the kind you get from Indian food shops) mixed half and half with water. Other plain yoghurt would work if it's not too thick. Much cheaper and easier than seeking out buttermilk!


It looks beautiful - do you think it would veganise ok by subbing non-dairy milk and a splash of vinegar for the buttermilk? Would love to break out of my plain yeasty wholemeal bread rut.


Hi Lindsey - you can use the WW flour to replace the spelt flour in this recipe. Happy baking!

Heidi Swanson

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