For most people, the Spanish word “mañana” means “morning” or “tomorrow”. But around here, we know the real meaning: “not today”. So here it is, several days late, my effort at a Southwestern version of Irish soda bread. This way I don’t have to make apologies for missing Saint Patrick’s Day.

There are several differences between this recipe and classic Irish soda bread:

First, the predominant flour is whole wheat. There are some soda bread recipes that use whole whet flour, but our family recipe calls for all-purpose flour.

Second, blue corn meal has been substituted for some of the whole wheat flour. These days you should be able to buy it locally. Bob’s Red Mill has unusual flours in most grocery stores, but a local mill, Talon de Gato Farm, takes email orders.

Third, I have added gluten. Corn meal has no gluten, so the additional gluten gives some extra lift in the oven; but if you are leery of gluten, you can certainly omit it. Still, the loaf will not be gluten-free because of the other flours.

Fourth, there is a little bit of baking powder; again to give some extra rising power. Most “authentic” recipes use only baking soda and buttermilk for leavening.

Finally, I have added green chiles and a good melting cheese. I used 4 ounces of canned chopped mild chiles, but you may want more and hotter. Swiss, Cheddar, Monterey jack, and asadero are all good cheese choices. Again, you can add more if you like.


Santa Fe-Style Soda Bread


  • 3 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup blue corn meal (yellow or white will work if you can’t find blue)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon powdered gluten
  • 4 ounces canned, chopped green chiles, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup grated cheese (Swiss, Cheddar, Monterey jack, or asadero)
  • 2 cups buttermilk


  1. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients: whole-wheat flour, corn meal, all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and gluten.
  2. Stir in the green chiles and grated cheese. Then stir in the buttermilk and mix until well-combined and the dough has begun to come together.
  3. Turn the dough out on a well-floured work surface. Knead for only a minute or two to bring everything together. If the dough is a little sticky, sprinkle sparingly with more flour and fold in.
  4. Shape the dough into a round and place it in a heavily buttered 8-inch cake pan. With a sharp knife, cut a ½-inch deep X in the top of the loaf.
  5. Bake in the middle of an oven preheated to 375°F for 40 to 45 minutes or until it is lightly browned and sounds like a drum when thumped on the bottom with a knuckle.
  6. Remove from the pan and transfer to a cooling rack to completely cool.
  7. Wrap loosely in a barely damp clean kitchen towel for 6 hours. This will help the loaf to firm up so that it can be cut more easily.
  8. For serving, cut very thin slices and serve with soft butter. Jam or other toppings your option.


Filed under Recipes


  1. I’m going to have to try this one, Darryl. And I’m thinking about experimenting with 1/2 C of mesquite flour instead of the blue corn meal. I also recommend you try Cacique brand’s manchego cheese. It is delicious and melts very well in baking. I’ll keep you posted on the experiment.

  2. That sounds like a great idea. I think you would definitely need the gluten for the mesquite flour. Manchego also sounds like a good idea. I love manchego. And – with it, membrillo (quince paste) would make a great topping. You may want more and hotter green chiles than I used. As you know, some in our family have problems with chiles. More cheese would also certainly work.

  3. skd

    I have never heard of blue cornmeal. I think I will go hunting. The recipe looks awesome.

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