White Soda Scones

Makes about 12 scones / Vegetarian

This has to be one of the fastest and most delicious scones you can make. The dough is just perfect for children to play around with, even if it does then get heavy from over-handling. You should see some of the creations that my sons make; dinosaurs are their favourites! This is the soda bread mixture we make at the Ballymaloe Cookery School, and there are countless variations you can experiment with from this basic recipe.


  • 450g (1lb) plain white flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 400ml (14fl oz) buttermilk or sour milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 230°C (450°F), Gas mark 8. Sift the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl, and rub the mixture in with your fingertips to incorporate some air. Make a well in the centre and pour in most of the buttermilk. Using one hand, with your fingers open and stiff, mix in a full circle, bringing the flour and liquid together, adding more liquid if necessary. The dough should be quite soft, but not too sticky.
  2. Turn it out onto a floured surface, and do not knead it but gently bring it into
  3. one ball. Flatten it slightly to a height of about 3cm (11/2in). Cut the dough into squares or whatever shape you like. Put the scones onto a baking tray and pop into the hot oven and cook for 10–15 minutes (depending on the size). Have a
  4. look at them after 10 minutes; if they are deep golden brown, then turn down
  5. the heat to 200°C (400°F), Gas mark 6 for the remainder of the time. When cooked they should sound hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.


  • Herb Scones
  • Add 1–2 tbsp of chopped thyme, rosemary, parsley, chives, marjoram, savoury
  • or sage to the flour before you pour in the buttermilk. For even more flavour, you could sprinkle the tops with grated Cheddar cheese before they go into the oven.
  • Pesto Scones
  • Add 1–2 tbsp basil pesto to the buttermilk before mixing with the flour. These are also delicious with chopped olives mixed in with the flour.