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


If you live outside of the U.S. and have a hard time finding buttermilk, but have access to a middle eastern grocery, Leban makes a good substitute (I actually think it IS buttermilk).


I write about the different bread machine models and also share cool recipes I find for bread machines and this one is definitely going to be tested soon. Thanks for sharing. Jan

Bread Machine Reviews

I have never made soda bread...however I have made a lot of yeast bread. I am really looking forward to trying this recipe! The seeds are what drew me into this recipe for sure! The photo of the bread is gorgeous!


2 words:fennel and buttermilk (well also love soda bread) 3? and this one looks delicious


mmm We're supposed to have a thunderstorm tomorrow night. The perfect time to whip this bread up!


Hi Ben, try the local health shops. I am also in SA and you can usually get it at your local hideously expensive organic health food shop. I'd probably use all plain bread flour though - or a mix of white and wholewheat bread flour.


TO BEN: Spelt flour in Dutch is speltbloem, maybe it's the same in Afrikaans. Hope that helps you find it.


Did I really want to heat my kitchen since I haven't turned on the air conditioning yet? But I did have buttermilk left over from making coconut cupcakes. Would "quick" bread be a match for the delicious artisan bread I purchase at my local tail gate? But then I did have buttermilk to use up. I decided to go for a hot kitchen AND to use the buttermilk. AND . . . the bread was delicious, chewy, and had texture that I couldn't imagine from a soda bread recipe. I toasted slices for breakfast this a.m. and will make croutons to top the fresh local salad greens. Thanks for encouraging all to try the recipe!


I would try this in a cast iron dutch oven, or a skillet - I know the Irish often do their soda breads in a cast-iron skillet. Turns out great. Not sure if i would put the lid on.... I think not. Looks amazing, I'm debating doing it right now!


Hi from Cape Town, We are really lucky to get some really good quality flour groan down here that is natural and organic,.We have the soccer world cup starting next week and lots of friends around, so will definatly be making this to soak up some of the Beer.


This is the first bread I have ever made -- and it turned out GREAT! I had to use a fair amount more buttermilk than it called for (closer to a cup) to get it all to bind together. Very fun -- thank you. Also, Portland is the greatest. Except that its still raining, but I love it none the less.


I am living in Cape Town, South Africa and this bread looks so good I have to try it but what is spelt flour? Don't know the name!


Beautiful photos, Heidi. Your trip sounds wonderful and so does that bread. I buy the Seeduction bread at Whole Foods as often as I can because I am literally addicted to it. I think I'll skip the store and just start making this one from now on. It looks hearty and delicious!

Natalie (The City Sisters)

That looks splendid! I'm experimenting with spelt flour and wondering if I can go all spelt instead of using all-purpose. Trial and error in my kitchen these days!

Michelle @ Find Your Balance

Hi Heidi, 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! Thank you for sharing such great recipes. Love, Joana HS: Thanks for reporting back so quickly Joana! It's really helpful.


Looks delicious, Heidi... and beautiful shots! @ meg: You could use 1 1/2 cups of brown rice flour and 1/2 cup almond or chickpea flour to make it gluten-free.

Meghan (Making Love In The Kitchen)

Sounds delicious, Heidi...llove the pictures and this recipe looks perfect...I may try this out with a few chia seeds, as well!

The Healthy Apple

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.


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

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