Do you love the thought of homemade bread, but are worried that it will be too time-consuming or too much trouble to make? Then I hope you will try this recipe for “Traditional Irish Soda Bread.” It’s so easy; you won’t need to rely on the luck o’ the Irish to pull it off.
Is there anything better than a slice of warm bread slathered with butter? If there is, I can’t think what it would be. It’s pure bliss and comfort food at its finest.
Traditional soda bread is more rustic in appearance than a regular sandwich loaf, with a craggy crispy crust and soft and tender insides. Not just for St. Patrick’s Day, this simple, quick bread will be the star of the show anytime you serve it.
Why you will love this recipe:
- No yeast; baking soda and buttermilk act as the leavening agents. And, you also only have to knead the dough a few times to bring the ingredients together.
- The dough doesn’t have to rise. You just mix everything in a bowl, plop the dough on a baking sheet and let it bake.
- If your children like to help in the kitchen, this is a perfect recipe for them to try.
The Origin of Irish Soda Bread:
Back in the 1800s, when baking soda was first introduced, it made making soda bread one of the easiest and least expensive ways to put food on the table. It also meant that people who didn’t have an oven—and virtually nobody had an oven in Ireland then—could make it.
The Irish cooked theirs in a big cast-iron pot with a lid on it that would have been put right onto the coals. To this day, this traditional recipe calls for the same four ingredients; flour, baking soda, buttermilk, and salt. That’s it!
There are lots of Americanized recipes for it out there, but according to Ed O’Dwyer, who founded The Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread, “If it has raisins, it’s called Spotted Dog or Railway Cake! If it contains raisins, eggs, baking powder, sugar, or shortening, it’s called cake.”
O’Dwyer’s website also states, that “The Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread is one of those Societies where there are no dues, no meetings, and the only requirement for joining is to bake a traditional loaf from time to time and teach a child about it and how to make it.” So, I think now I must be an official member, and you can be too!
What to serve with it:
For other times of the year, it’s wonderful when served with soups, chili, salads, and casseroles. It would also be excellent with a pat of my homemade garlic herb butter. It can also be served at any meal instead of biscuits or cornbread.
What’s in it:
You only need four simple ingredients.
How to make it:
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet or lightly spray with non-stick baking spray.
3. Add flour, salt and baking soda to a large bowl and using a fork mix well. Add one and a quarter cup of buttermilk and mix until the flour is moistened and partially comes together. If necessary, add a little more buttermilk, if your dough is too dry.
4. Pour this mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead until the dough forms a nice ball and holds together. Do not knead too much, or it will be tough.
5. Shape the dough into an approximately a 6-inch disk about 2 inches thick and place on the baking sheet.
6. Using a knife, cut an X about 1 inch deep and extend it almost to the edges of the dough. This helps it cook in the middle.
7. Bake for about 35 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when you tap on it.
8. Transfer to a rack to cool. Serve warm with butter.
Leftovers, if you have any, should be stored in an airtight container. Because there are no preservatives, it will only last about three days on your counter. However, you can freeze it for two to three months.
If you do have leftovers, they are delicious sliced, toasted, and topped with butter and or jam.
Be sure to use a “dry” measuring cup to measure the flour, and a “liquid” measuring cup when measuring the buttermilk. Liquid measuring cups usually are glass or plastic and have a handle that allows you to pour the liquid.
Use the “spoon and level” method to measure your flour. Use a spoon to fluff up the flour, then fill your dry measuring cup with flour using the spoon and level it off with the flat blade of a knife.
When kneading your dough, less is best. It’s not supposed to look perfect, a few bumps here and there are fine.
Don’t skip the step of cutting the cross in the dough. It helps the interior cook all the way through.
If you like this recipe, you might also like these other popular recipes on my blog:
- Ultimate Blueberry Bread with Lemon Glaze
- Easy Hoecakes aka Johnnycakes
- Easy Southern Sweet Potato Bread
- Zucchini Banana Muffins
- Easy Sausage Cheese Bread
I have lots more recipes I think you will like as well, click on the following link to see all of my bread recipes.
★ If you make this recipe, please leave a comment and give it a star rating. I would love to know how you liked it!
Thank you so much for visiting Grits and Pinecones!
Traditional Irish Soda Bread
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk You may not need it all.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet, or lightly spray with non-stick baking spray.
- Add flour, salt and baking soda to a large bowl and using a fork mix well.
- Add 1-¼ cup of buttermilk and mix until the flour is moistened and partially comes together. If necessary, add a little more buttermilk if your dough is too dry.
- Pour this mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead a few times until the dough forms a nice ball and holds together. Do not knead too much, or your bread will be tough.
- Shape the dough into approximately a 6-inch disk about 2 inches high and place it on your baking sheet.
- Using a sharp knife, cut an X about 1 inch deep and extend it almost to the edges of the dough. This helps it cook in the middle.
- Bake for about 35 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when you tap on it.
- Transfer to a rack to cool. Serve warm with butter.
*This recipe was originally published on March 15, 2016, and republished on April 23, 2020, with new pictures and expanded tips. No change to the basic recipe.