Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread

As the name suggests, Irish soda bread is a traditional bread originating in Ireland in the 1800s. It is a fairly dense bread, and if you have never tried it, think of it as a cross between a scone or tea biscuit and a muffin, though it is not very sweet, which makes it a satisfying addition to any meal or breakfast. There are many variations on the traditional recipe, and some bakers add raisins, caraway seeds, and even whiskey.

I've tried a few variations of Irish soda bread in the past, and this is my version of a traditional recipe. I decided not to use raisins as they make for a sweeter bread (though the bread is very tasty with raisins), and you can omit the egg and baking powder if desired if you want a bread that is closer to the original version. Increase the baking soda to 2 teaspoons if you omit the baking powder and use a little less flour is you choose to add raisins or if you omit the egg.

Irish Soda BreadIrish Soda Bread
Recipe by
Cuisine: Irish
Published on April 5, 2007

A take on a traditional soda bread — a dense, comforting and delicious quick bread for serving with meals or with butter or jam

Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 35 to 40 minutes

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  • 5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 1 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • Preheat the oven to 425°F and lightly butter or grease a baking sheet or large cast-iron skillet. Sift together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and baking powder in a large mixing bowl.

  • Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter until the flour mixture until it resembles a coarse meal. If using raisins, stir them into the flour and butter mixture.

  • Make a deep well in the center of the mixture. Add the beaten egg and buttermilk and mix until the dough stiffens up. Dust your hands with some flour and gently knead the dough until it forms into a rough ball. If the dough is sticky, add more flour.

  • Form the dough into a round loaf and transfer to the baking sheet or cast-iron skillet. Score the top of the loaf with a 1/2-inch deep cross across the top. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the bread is golden brown. The bread is done when a cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

  • Cool on a baking sheet and serve as is or with butter or jam. This bread is best eaten within a few days as it dries out rather quickly. Store in a covered container to preserve freshness.

Makes 1 large loaf
Irish Soda Bread


Anonymous said...

Heh.. I'm the Irish Soda Bread expert! :P

Hopefully, you won't mind my opinion...

Soda bread is BEST when done as "farls," on the griddle.

Irish wheaton, on the other hand - mmm.. yes, baked in the oven.

To keep it fresher longer, add a teaspoon or two of oil to the mix before baking.

Another way to enjoy it is as part of an "Ulster Fry," the bread or farls fried in the skillet along with the eggs, sausage, bacon (ok.. this is a vegetarian site.. I know I know.. :P), etc.

Good to see though that Irish Soda is getting some attention :)

Anonymous said...

My wife is black Irish and gave up on the fry up as she wants to keep me around for awhile ;).

Very close to what she does. As a practice I might get my girls to try it as exercise to follow recipes. Thank You.

Grace said...

"Black Irish" is an American euphemism and is considered deeply offensive in Ireland.

And 'Farls' is completely different to soda bread. The two cannot be mixed.