Perhaps the most traditional of Irish baked goods would be soda bread. Despite this obvious fact, I had never ventured down the magnificent road of soda bread-making until now. After a few {gentle} requests, I decided to get my feet wet this week with a beautiful and simple Avoca recipe…a traditional, bare-bones plain soda bread, which turned out wonderfully, and begged me to make more.

Because this bread can literally be made in minutes, I decided I would experiment by adding in a savoury ingredient or two as well as trying my mother-in-law’s favourite “spotted dog” variety. For the blog, I settled on this combination of wild garlic and flax seed, whose flavours (and health benefits) speak nicely together and are just strong enough to contend with the heavy texture of the soda bread itself.

First, we needed to go down to the wood to forage for wild garlic, which grows madly in our few acres of mossy damp soil that lies untouched on the River Shannon. This wild herb has long lush leaves similar to the Lily of the Valley, but has a distinctive garlic or chive scent. After cultivating a few handfuls of fresh stems, we made a quick trip to the local natural food store to replenish our store of flax seed in our pantry.

I’m a colossal fan of flax. It is considered a superfood and has tremendous benefits because it is loaded with omega-3’s and antioxidants. Some even say it is one of the most powerful plant foods on the planet. All I know is that it tastes kinda nutty (love a nutty) and if it can make us healthier, why not add it to an already well-appointed soda bread?

As we ambled through the woodland acreage, we spotted the wild garlic making its home next to tree roots, ferns and ivy…

We gathered the bright green leaves and brought them home for a wash and a fine chop

Then it was time to mix up all the ingredients, pat it into a round and cut a deep cross on it

(to keep the fairies out!)

I find it is best fresh out of the oven slathered with our farmhouse honey butter, but any butter will do…in fact, it really doesn’t need anything….just break a piece off and enjoy.

Here’s the recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Slan Abhaile,


Photos & Styling by Imen McDonnell. Assisted by Sonia Mulford Chaverri.

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14 Responses to “Wild Garlic + Flax Seed Soda Bread”

  1. Renana says:

    hello Iman,
    is there a way to make this bread in a vegan version?
    without the buttermilk?
    what would you recommend to use instead?

  2. […] I went home that afternoon and secretly marveled over the idea of ‘wild spring garlic’.  The following weekend, the little farmer and I packed up a basket and the garden shovel and we went down to collect some of this chive-y plant to use in a soda bread recipe. […]

  3. […] and it is. For a different twist on Irish Soda Bread, check out Imen McDonald’s post about her Wild Garlic Flax Seed Soda Bread. It looks […]

  4. […] to try: Black pudding, cheddar and stout bread; wild garlic and flax seed soda bread; baked brunch baguette; mushroom, stout and potato Irish-style risotto; or my very own Irish […]

  5. Aoife Mc says:

    This looks really great Imen, and I love that you foraged your own wild garlic! I wonder if I could pick some up in the farmer’s market…or maybe in a city centre park? You never know!

    Definitely going to give this flavour combo a try.

  6. heidi leon says:

    Oh, Imen darling, I´m making it right now (sans the garlic). Seriously. I´ve been craving bread for a week so, this, your recipe is destined to be tested at my Macau kitchen!..

    btw, I must confess I never knew how to comment on your posts!!!! yes, I know it´s very silly of me…

  7. Deb says:

    This looks and sounds delicious! I may have to venture into breadmaking.

  8. Melinda says:

    I love soda bread and make it all of the time, though I must admit I’ve not thought to put wild garlic in it…looks delicious. Lovely photo as always – thank you for sharing!

  9. barbara says:

    It looks wonderful. Love the photos too.

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