Mincemeat Soda Bread

I have lots of stuff in my baking cupboard that just needs to get used up – partly because the man of the house can’t have sugar in his diet so I try not to use things that will tantalise him unfairly in what I cook for us.  But we have been trying to make the cupboards generally more user friendly by not being so crammed to the gunnels and my homemade mincemeat which has been hanging round since before Christmas is one of the things that really is just taking up space unnecessarily.

I recently ran a soda bread workshop over Zoom for my Rotary club, which was great fun albeit challenging as I had very little normal flour left in my stores so was unable to do a test run of either of the recipes I used before the day and also ended up making the recipes half the size I normally would.  I will try to write up the other recipe later but it may wait until I am able to have another go at it and can get some photographs.  Both recipes were ones I made up on the day and I’m really happy to say that they both worked really well.  

This mincemeat soda bread was inspired by Nadia Hussain from the telly box.  I was flicking through iPlayer and came across a programme I think she must have been doing quite recently where she did a soda bread for her children with mixed fruits and suet – which naturally made me think of mincemeat and that jar I have calling to me.

The workshop version got tucked into that evening and had gone by lunchtime the next day – my lockdown tummy is an ever expanding issue!  So for this one, I decided to make it for my parents – I thought it would be nice toasted for breakfast.  Apparently though, it is a rubbish breakfast food as somehow it all disappears before suppertime!

You can use full fat yoghurt instead of buttermilk or indeed, you can add some vinegar or lemon juice to full fat milk about ten minutes before making the bread.  The homemade buttermilk made like that may not be as thick as shop bought so you may need slightly less of it.

There is no getting away from the fact that you are going to get mucky hands making this recipe.  There’s no point in using a whisk or spoon.


250 plain white flour (don’t be tempted to use bread flour it’s too tough)

200 ml buttermilk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

100g mincemeat

zest of one lemon

5 strands of candied orange peel, finely chopped (again I was using up stuff – it would be just fine without this)

1 tablespoon honey

A pinch of semolina (use normal flour or polenta if you don’t have any)


  • Preheat the oven to 200C fan.
  • Line a Dutch oven or a cake tin with baking parchment (I used cake tin liners because I forgot to do this before I had grubby hands – this is also the reason there are two liners in the picture – it isn’t necessary just what fell out of the cupboard!) and sprinkle with the semolina (this stops the bread sticking)
  • In a mixing bowl, mix together the honey, lemon zest, candied peel and mincemeat
  • Sift in the flour and baking soda – it is really important to sift the baking soda as otherwise it clumps and doesn’t distribute for an even rise
  • Sprinkle in the salt and then get your hands in there and mix it all together with your fingers, a little like making a crumble topping
  • Pour in half the buttermilk and mix that in with your fingers then gradually add as much more of the buttermilk as you need to form a sticky but not too wet ball
  • If the mixture won’t form a ball, add in a little more buttermilk – if you accidentally add in too much add a little more flour until it comes together
  • Put the ball of dough into the middle of your lined pan and then using a sharp knife cut a deep cross into the dough – this lets out the steam and apparently the devil!
  • Bake for around 30 minutes when the bottom should sound hollow when tapped
  • Leave to cool for as long as you can keep your self-control together and then serve with lots of butter!

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