This Irish Soda Bread is a quick bread that has a dense texture and a crunchy crust. Soda bread gets its rise from baking soda instead of yeast, making this bread simple to make. It’s delightful paired with soups, as toast for breakfast, or (my favorite way) warm out of the oven with a bit of butter and a warm cup of tea!
Soda bread was one of my favorite foods on our trip to Ireland. It came with almost all of our meals, and if it didn’t, we asked for some! It’s a great traditional Irish bread to serve on St. Patrick’s day, but I love it any time of the year!
Irish soda bread is very easy to make. It only takes about 5 minutes to prepare, and there’s no yeast involved! If bread baking intimidates you, this Irish soda bread or my no knead bread is a great place to start your bread baking adventure!
What is Irish Soda Bread?
A bit of history…
Irish soda bread is a dense, quick bread with a texture similar to a scone. It is made from basic, affordable ingredients and was an inexpensive way to make bread in a poor country. When bicarbonate soda was introduced to the UK in the 1800s, soda bread became a staple in Ireland. Traditionally, a cross is scored on the top of the bread to ward off devils and evil spirits. I don’t skip this step because it also helps the bread bake all the way through!
Ingredient Line Up
Authentic Irish soda bread consists of four basic ingredients: flour, baking soda (of course), buttermilk, and salt. I make soda bread with those staple ingredients, but I also include cold, unsalted butter, an egg, and a bit of sugar for extra flavor and richness.
- Flour – All purpose flour works great, but you can also use wheat flour or a combination of both.
- Baking Soda – This is the leavening agent of soda bread instead of yeast. The baking soda reacts with the buttermilk to make the bread rise. Make sure your baking soda is fresh! Otherwise it will not react and rise, resulting in flat bread.
- Buttermilk – Buttermilk gives soda bread great flavor. Don’t keep buttermilk on hand? Me either! You can make your own by mixing one cup of milk with 1 tbsp of vinegar or lemon juice. Wait five and you have buttermilk!
- Salt – It gives the bread flavor.
- Unsalted butter – Use cold, cubed butter for this recipe. You can even pop it in the freezer while you prepare your dry ingredients to ensure it’s cold enough!
- Large egg – It adds a bit of richness to the dough.
- Sugar – To flavor the dough.
Tips for Irish Soda Bread Success
- I highly recommend using a cast iron skillet to bake your bread because it creates an extra crispy crust!
- If your dough is too sticky to work with while your kneading, add a bit of flour 1 tablespoon at a time. The dough should be sticky but easy to work with.
- Begin checking your bread after 35 minutes. If the top of your loaf is browning too much, tent it with foil!
Irish Soda Bread
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 large egg
- 1 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter cold and cubed
- Preheat oven to 400°F and prepare your pan. You can use a parchment lined baking sheet, a cast iron skillet, or a greased pie dish.
- In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt together.
- Using a pastry cutter or two forks, cut in the cold butter until the mixture resembles pea sized crumbs.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg.
- Pour this mixture over the dry ingredients. Gently fold to combine. Be very careful not to over work the dough.
- Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 1 minute.
- Form the dough into a 9 inch loaf and transfer to your prepared pan.
- Using a very sharp knife, score an X in the top of the loaf.
- Bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes.
- Remove from oven and allow the loaf to cool in the pan 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
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