Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread

Who is excited for Saint Patrick’s Day?  Green is definitely the color of the week!  I have to admit, even though I’m 50% Irish, I rarely embrace any Irish traditions (and hating beer doesn’t help).  So, instead of making something fabulously green to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day (I’m holding out for mint frozen yogurt and green bagels on Sunday), I decided to embrace my Irish roots and made Irish soda bread!

Irish Soda Bread Little Bitty Bakes

Irish soda bread is a dense quick bread that gets its rise from a reaction between an acid (buttermilk) and baking soda (hence “soda” bread).  From what I’ve read, traditional soda bread in Ireland is made without any sugar or mix-ins, but more “Americanized” versions welcome a little sugar and/or dried fruit.  I obviously used both in my recipe. 😉

Since I wasn’t really sure how my version would turn out, I made a small loaf as an experimental loaf.  To my surprise, it turned out great!  I think I may need to make another soon. 🙂

Irish Soda Bread with whipped butter

This recipe comes together in minutes with just five ingredients (plus your optional mix-ins).  I added raisins and chopped dates to my dough.  I think chopped walnuts and a smidge of dark chocolate would be great, too.  The dough for this recipe is much like that of other quick breads — sticky!  It can be tough not to add extra flour as you shape it into its disc-like shape, but refrain!  It all works out.

The bread is not like your average yeast bread — it is very dense.  I was also surprised at how moist mine turned out, I expected soda bread would be a bit dry (I figured that was why so many people spread it with butter and jam).

Irish Soda Bread with whipped butter spread

Of course, the moistness of the bread didn’t stop me from topping a couple slices with some whipped butter.   Yeah, that was definitely lunch yesterday. 🙂

[print_this]Irish Soda Bread

A dense, slightly sweet bread.  Baking soda and buttermilk allow the bread to rise, eliminating the need for yeast.  If you’d like, stir in dried fruit or nuts.  This recipe makes one small loaf, but you can easily double the recipe to make a large loaf, or two small loaves.

Makes 1 small (~6inch diameter) loaf

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 30-40 minutes

  • 1 1/2 cups white whole-wheat flour (or all-purpose), plus extra for kneading
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk*
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit (optional)

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, stir the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.  Make a well in the center of the bowl; add the buttermilk and dried fruit into the well.  Stir until just mixed (you will have a soft dough).

Turn the dough onto a floured surface.  Form into a disc about 1.5 inches in thickness (it will be about 5 to 6 inches in diameter).  Place the dough on the prepared baking sheet.  Use a sharp knife to cut an X on top of the dough.  Bake 30 to 40 minutes, until the edges are golden brown, and the bread sounds hollow when tapped.  Allow the bread to cool before slicing.

*If you do not have buttermilk, you can substitute a combination of milk and vinegar.  Mix 1 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of vinegar.  Allow it to stand at least 10 minutes.

Adapted from Joy of Baking [/print_this]


11 thoughts on “Irish Soda Bread”

  1. I’m surprised you didn’t put caraway seeds in the bread. I’ve never seen a recipe without them and it’s the seeds that give Irish Soda Bread its unique flavor!

    1. I know caraway seeds are another common add-in, but I didn’t have any on hand. I actually read that “traditional” Irish soda bread uses no mix-ins at all, so I figured I could get away without using them. 🙂

  2. As much as I like your Greek yoghurt recipes, I’m glad you didn’t put any in this bread 😉 Your forbearance is admirable!

    1. I heard a lot of recipes call for currants – I had raisins and dates, so that is what I used. 🙂 I’ve actually never had currants!

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