Being an Irish woman from an area with a dense Irish population, I have a love for soda bread ❤
This delectable treat would surface in every store around St. Patrick’s Day back home. And I always made my way through a loaf or two before it disappeared from the store shelves. I told myself every year that I would get a good recipe and make my own so that I could always be guaranteed the best loaf ever! But it seems that never really happened. Until now. That is. Until now!
I finally tried my hand at baking this Irish staple. And it turned out pretty great! Like really pretty great! I’m impressed with myself, for sure 😉
Soda bread became popular in Ireland in the 1840’s. It was then that baking soda became affordably available to the general population of this amazing country. This was a game-changer. And soda bread found its way to the table at most every meal.
As is so often the case with traditional foods, soda bread recipes vary by region in Ireland. But the 4 main ingredients are always the same; coarse wholemeal flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk.
I’m shooting to duplicate this recipe as closely as possible. With the unfortunate exception of coarse wholemeal flour. I would prefer to have this flour. AND I fully intend to order some for my next go around with this recipe, as I’ve never had the opportunity to try it. I LOVE whole grains! But I don’t have it for this time around. And that’s okay. White flour is always often used by Irish elders who live here in the states to make this tasty treat. And it will get the job done in my kitchen this time, for sure!
There are many recipes out there with added sugar and butter. Some also toss in raisins. And others caraway seeds. My beloved bread had butter and sugar in it, but I left that out today. I wanted to keep the recipe as authentic as possible. And the end result proved that I did the right thing! Those ingredients are absolutely unnecessary. The buttermilk adds plenty of fat and sweetness without them.
A crusty, golden brown top is a key signature for this bread. The cross cut in it has many back stories to its origin. But the most reasonable explanation I’ve found for it is that it was meant to ‘score’ the bread into 4 individual portions. Allowing it to easily be cut into a single portion to be served at mealtime.
IRISH SODA BREAD
4 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 c. buttermilk
3/4 c. raisins
1 tbls caraway seeds
Preheat your oven to 375°
In a large bowl blend the all-purpose flour, salt, baking soda, raisins, and caraway seeds.
Create a well in the center of the flour mix and pour in the buttermilk.
Mix the dough together with your hands. You want to firmly mix it together. Do not knead the dough as you would for many bread recipes. Be more gentle than that.
It will stick to your hands. It’s a bit messy.
When you see it separating from the bowl and forming a ball, it’s ready.
Flour your counter top and roll the ball of dough out of the bowl onto it. Shape your dough into a round loaf. And flour the top. You want a nice layer of flour on your dough ball.
Place your dough in a lightly greased baking dish. Do not allow the dough to touch the sides of the dish. If you have a baking stone it is even better. No need to grease the stone (obviously), simply lay your dough ball out on it.
Take a sharp knife and cut a cross in the top of your dough ball.
Bake for 40-45 minutes.
You’ll know it’s done when the top is golden and crisp. And the bottom has a hollow sound when you knock on it. To do this, simply place an oven mitt on your hand, flip the dough over onto your covered hand and knock on the bottom with your free hand.
After you remove your bread from the oven, place it directly on a plate. Allow it to rest for 15 minutes. And then wrap it in a clean tea towel. Wrapping it when it is still warm like this causes it to retain optimal moisture. It will keep the inside moist, and slightly soften the crisp outer crust.
I’m really pleased with how this recipe turned out. I will, without a doubt, be making my own for St. Pat’s Day from now on. It’s soooooooo delicious!
But I may have to shelf the recipe for the rest of the year. Because I can’t stop eating it once it’s made. I just devoured the loaf I made in 3 days flat! That’s a lot of bread!
However, if you have more self-control than I do you can make it all throughout the year. It’s a great recipe to have up your sleeve to impress guests, for sure. And … FYI … It makes an amazing accompaniment to coffee or tea. So it’s great for between meal visits with friends. Or served with hot chocolate to hold the little ones over when dinner is running late 😉
If you have any tips or tricks for making Irish soda bread you’d like to share, please pop them in the comments. And let me know if you try this recipe. I’d love to hear how it worked out for you 😉
As always, your presence is greatly appreciated. I adore that you are here. And I just know that we are going to have great fun together ❤