Irish Soda Bread is a very easy recipe to make! Buttermilk and baking soda give this bread its rise and a delicious flavor. Classic Irish Soda Bread is the perfect way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day or any day of the year!Jump to Recipe
Easy and so delicious, Irish Soda Bread is something you should make! And with St Patrick’s Day is coming up soon making a loaf is a great way to celebrate! This bread should not be saved for this time of year only but be made often! Oh YUM! Let’s make classic Irish Soda Bread!
WHAT IS IRISH SODA BREAD
Traditional Irish Soda Bread is not a yeast bread but a quick bread that is made with buttermilk, baking soda. This bread does not usually use eggs and it gets a little sweetness from a little sugar.
This is a wonderfully tasty and easy-to-make bread that can be eaten warm from the oven!
Even if you are not a baker, you can whip up this easy-to-make Irish Soda Bread recipe!
Irish Soda bread has a crunchy crust, a sweet taste, and a tender texture and crumb.
A TRIBUTE TO MY IRISH ROOTS
A couple of years ago I took an Ancestry DNA test. And to my surprise and delight, I found out that I am Irish! All three percent of me! The surname Lynch is peppered through one line of my ancestors from Ireland! So, to honor my Irish roots we will celebrate with this iconically Irish bread!
HISTORY OF IRISH SODA BREAD
I love to see how recipes were invented or became part of a culture. Really, it’s just fascinating.
Necessity is the mother of invention in the case of this yummy bread . Two events that really had nothing to do with each other collided and Irish Soda Bread was born.
In 1840 Bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) became easily available and in 1845-49 the Irish suffered the Great Potato Famine. Famine and poverty became a way of life for many Irish so they used the most inexpensive ingredients that were readily available and made Soda Bread.
Originally, sour milk was used to make Irish Soda Bread. Later in the post, I’ll show you how to make sour milk by adding vinegar or lemon juice.
And this simple and tasty recipe has spanned centuries and continents and is a very popular bread here in the United States. Pretty cool, right?
So every time you and I make Irish Soda Bread it’s good to remember that we are making a tasty bit of history!
BUTTERMILK IS THE SECRET INGREDIENT
There is no yeast in Soda Bread. Instead, the lactic acid in buttermilk reacts with the baking soda and leavens the bread, or makes it rise! It’s a delicious chemical reaction!
Buttermilk also gives this bread a distinct flavor. It’s delicious!
So what is buttermilk? The quick answer is buttermilk is fermented milk. It is the liquid leftover from making butter.
In my grandmother’s day, this liquid was left out overnight and it began to ferment making buttermilk!
My Nani said that she and her siblings would fight over who would get the leftover buttermilk. And that must have been quite a fight since she was one of eleven!
WHAT CAN I SUBSTITUTE FOR BUTTERMILK
If you don’t have buttermilk on hand you can make a great substitute for it.
Use one TBSP of white vinegar or lemon juice and add enough milk to make one cup. Stir it together and let it sit for 5 minutes and it is ready to use!
WHY MAKE THE ICONIC CROSS IN THE LOAF
The cross in this round bread is iconic. Besides, the cross making this bread easily identifiable it also serves an important two-fold purpose.
First, it helps the oven heat get to the center of the bread promoting even baking, and it lets the steam out of the bread in a controlled way so it does not burst out of the bread breaking it open.
Cut the cross into the formed dough with a sharp knife.
TIPS FOR MAKING THE BEST IRISH SODA BREAD
Irish soda bread is very straightforward and very easy to make! But to guarantee your bread comes out the best it can, here are some helpful tips.
FLOUR AND BUTTER
Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl.
Then get the rest of the ingredients together.
Cut cold unsalted butter into half-inch cubes and add them to the flour mixture.
Work the butter into the flour mixture until it is pea size.
I like to use my grandmother’s pastry cutter. But if you have cool hands you can use your hands. Or cut them with knives.
Nani’s pastry cutter was once painted red but from decades of use the paint wore off. Everytime I use it I think of my grandmother’s lovely well-worn hands I loved so much!
ADDING EXTRA INGREDIENTS OF YOUR BREAD
If desired, add the raisins, currant, or any other ingredients like orange zest (YUM) to the flour and butter mixture. Caraway seeds are also a traditional ingredient in Irish Soda Bread.
Here are more add-ins to try:
- chopped green onions
- cheddar cheese
- chocolate chips
- herbs like rosemary and dill
- dried fruit like cherries and apricots
- caraway seeds
RAISINS AND CURRANTS
I made my Irish Soda Bread with dried currants. Growing up in Scotland and England I became very fond of these little ruby gems. They are similar to raisins but are sweeter, smaller and a little tangy.
When I put raisins in breads I like to use golden raisins. My Nani used them so I do too!
Regular dark raisins and golden raisins are made from the same grape. Dark raisins are sun dried and golden raisins are dried mechanically.
Because I am not very fond of dark raisins I like to use golden ones, they are a bit milder.
In the image above you can see dark raisins, golden raisins, and currants.
MAKING THE DOUGH
Make a well in the ingredients and add the buttermilk. Use a fork to mix everything together to make a dough.
Turn the dough onto a floured surface and gently kneed the dough into a ball.
Flatten the dough a little into a 6-7 inch circle.
If you bake, parchment paper is a must! I like to bake bread on parchment because the bead comes out of a pan without burning my fingers!
One tip that really makes a difference is to crumple up the parchment paper and then straighten it out before you use it so it fits into any pan!
BAKING IRISH SODA BREAD
This wonderful tasty bread can be baked in a cast iron skillet, which is the usual way to bake it. Or it can be made on a baking sheet or a dutch oven. Our cast iron pan is in our RV so I used an enamel pan to bake our bread.
Bake the bread until the crust is golden brown.
One way to tell if bread is done is to turn it over and gently tap on the bottom of it. It should have a wonderful hollow sound! Oh, that is a marvelous sound! It’s the sound of bread success!
OTHER TIPS FOR MAKING SODA BREAD
After the bread comes out of the oven put it on a wire rack to cool.
It’s almost impossible for me not to eat this bread warm slathered with butter. So I let it cool a bit and then using a serrated knife I cut off a thick slice!
If you want to eat it the next day, then toast it. It makes the most delicious toast.
And try it with Kerrygold Irish butter!
IRISH SODA BREAD RECIPE
DELICIOUS IRISH SODA BREAD
An easy quick bread make with buttermilk and other simple ingredients. Delicious served warm with butter. A real treat!
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 TBS sugar
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup cold unsalted butter cut into small cubes
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/3 cup raisins or currents
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
Cut the cold butter into 1/4 inch cubes and add it to the flour mixture.
Using a pastry cutter or your hands work the butter into the flour until it resembles course pea-size pieces.
Add raisins or currant to the flour/butter mixture.
Make a well in the mixture and pour the buttermilk into the flour/butter mixture.
Stir it with a fork until a soft dough forms. Do not overmix.
Turn the dough onto a floured worksurface and gently kneed into a ball.
Form the ball into a 6-7 inch circle.
Cut an X on the top of the dough about 1 inch deep.
Bake on a baking sheet or in a cast iron skillet about 35-40 minutes until golden brown.
Cool a bit on a wire rack before serving with butter, honey or jam.