A simple loaf of Irish Soda Bread is quick, comforting and the perfect addition to your St. Patrick’s Day feast. But feel free to make it ALL year long!
Soda bread is bread leavened without yeast, but instead baking soda (baking powder, too, but the name comes from soda). These are also called quick bread. Adding buttermilk enhances the rising potential with the chemical reaction between the alkaline soda and acidic buttermilk.
Irish Soda Bread Recipe
I had only made Irish brown bread before, so I followed this recipe pretty closely except for adding a few tablespoons of sugar. There were only 4 ingredients in this recipe: flour, soda, salt, and buttermilk. I didn’t even need to make out a shopping list.
A lovely dense loaf with a perfectly chewy crust came out of my oven after the 50 minute baking time. I was unsure exactly how to slash the top, so my X may have been a little deep. Despite its rustic look, this was a fabulous bread for such minimal effort. I got the “this is really, really good” response when I cut Bill a slice.
Tips for Making an Easy Soda Bread
- My Italian friend, Ann, recommends mixing the dough with your hands to give the bread a light and airy consistency. Her version also has a stick of butter and is quite tasty! Using a whisk is perfectly acceptable, too.
- The dough should be well blended, but not overworked. As with all quick breads (those using baking powder and/or baking soda) will develop tunnels if over-mixed.
- The dough should be heavy, but not too wet. If it seems too dry you can add a bit more buttermilk.
- I like to dust my hands with flour to shape the bread into round loaves.
- Ann uses the wrong end of a fork to cut a deep X into the loaf. I used a sharp knife instead. This provides the classic look of a homemade soda bread. It also helps the loaf to bake evenly.
- Dusting the top with flour before making the cut will make the X stand out.
- Adding raisins is a traditional option, though one my family would not appreciate.
- I’ve added dried cherries in the past, but I’m the only fan of those around here!
- Bake in a cake pan or cast iron skillet (the skillet will give a better rise).
- Inserting a knife into the bread at the end of the baking time will tell you if your bread is done. It should come out clean if the bread is fully cooked.
Later, I made a second loaf, a half batch with the addition of 1/3 cup dried cherries. Soda Bread with Raisins is a more traditional option, but I prefer cherries. This smaller Irish soda bread loaf was baked for 35 minutes. I hope you all had a marvelous St. Patrick’s Day. Erin Go Bragh!!!
- 4 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar (my addition, optional)
- 2 cups buttermilk*
- 1 cup dried cherries, optional
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Grease an 8-inch pie plate or
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt (and sugar if using). Whisk in the buttermilk until the
dough comes together. Add dried cherries, if using.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface and knead gently for a minute. It should be
soft and malleable but not overworked. Pat it into a 6-inch dough ball and place in the pan. Cut
an X into the top. Bake for 50 minutes or until golden brown and the X has widened. Cool
completely before slicing.
Recipe from Baking with Julia.
If you do not have buttermilk on hand, you can easily make your own by mixing 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice with 1 cup of milk (less the one tablespoon). Let rest a few minutes to let thicken and curdle.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 441Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 899mgCarbohydrates: 93gFiber: 3gSugar: 26gProtein: 12g