Irish soda bread is a classic Irish bread recipe that is easy to make and requires only a few simple ingredients. With its dense yet tender texture, slightly sweet flavor, and signature cross on top, it’s obvious why this quick bread is a staple in Irish homes. My version doesn’t stray far from the classic. Butter and an egg join the four essential ingredients; flour, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk. Both add flavor to the bread and make it a bit lighter.
Why You’ll Love Irish Soda Bread
- No rise time – Irish soda bread is a quick bread that doesn’t call for yeast, so there is no proofing or rising, which reduces prep time considerably. Instead, acidic buttermilk reacts with baking soda to give the bread its lift.
- Simple ingredients list – This Irish soda bread recipe calls for the simplest pantry staples and buttermilk. The best things in life are simple.
- Versatile – Irish soda bread is sweet and savory, leaving room for customization. Add your favorite dried fruit, increase the sugar for a sweeter bread, or take it in a more savory direction. The choice is yours.
- Unique texture – Irish soda bread is dense with a golden brown crust but is still quite tender. You get a bit of everything with this bread.
- Forgiving – Irish soda bread may be one of the most forgiving home-baked goods. Once you make the dough, you can gauge if it needs more flour or milk as you knead and shape it. If you get it a little too brown, it still tastes fantastic, and you don’t have to knead the dough for a specific amount of time, eliminating the risk of over or under-kneading it. Simply put, you don’t have to be a bread-making expert to make a good Irish soda bread loaf.
Irish Soda Bread Ingredients Notes
- Flour: All-purpose flour is used in Irish soda bread. The high protein content of bread flour isn’t necessary for this quick bread.
- Sugar: Only a little goes into the bread dough. This Irish soda bread, like others, has a mild biscuit-like flavor.
- Baking soda: Allows the bread to rise and contributes to its tenderness.
- Buttermilk: The acid in buttermilk activates the baking soda to provide that lift.
- Butter: Butter adds moisture and helps achieve a crisper crust, plus the added fat results in a higher rise.
- Raisins: Although optional, a slice of bread studded with raisins is quite appealing!
(Scroll down to the bottom for the printable recipe card with exact measurements and recipe instructions.)
How To Make Irish Soda Bread
- Combine the dry: Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
- Cut in the butter: Use a pastry cutter or your hands. Stop once you have coarse crumbs.
- In goes the raisins: Mix them in at this stage for even distribution.
- Add the wet: The wet ingredients include the buttermilk and egg, then mix until a crumbly dough forms.
- Knead and shape: Knead the dough until no raw patches of flour remain (don’t overdo it). The purpose of kneading is to help form the dough into a ball and make it easy to shape, not to develop gluten.
- “X” marks the spot: Some consider it a blessing on the loaf, but its purpose is practical. The “X” allows the bread to expand without splitting.
- Time to bake: The bread takes 45-50 minutes at 400 degrees. Make sure the oven is hot before you put the loaf in.
Variations, Substitutions, and Cooking Tips
No butter – Use olive oil instead. You can add it to the dry with the wet ingredients. Since olive oil isn’t solid, you can’t cut it into the flour.
Make buttermilk – Add two tablespoons of fresh lemon juice to a measuring cup, followed by enough whole milk to reach the 2-cup line to make buttermilk yourself. You can also use white vinegar or cream of tartar in place of lemon juice. Then, measure out 14 ounces since this Irish soda bread recipe requires that specific amount.
Use any dried fruit – If you’re not a fan of raisins, you can use cherries, currants, or anything else you like. You can also skip the fruit altogether.
There’s nothing like fresh Irish soda bread out of the oven; however, you can make it ahead if you wish; bakeries do it all the time. Just remember that you can make the bread in advance, not the dough. Since the quick bread relies on baking soda and buttermilk for leavening instead of yeast, it must go into the oven immediately.
Storage and Freezer Tips
To store Irish soda bread, wrap the loaf in plastic and place it into an airtight container. From there, you can leave it at room temperature for 2-3 days, refrigerate for 3-4 days, or freeze it for 2 months. Wrapping the bread in plastic is essential since it tends to dry out.
How To Reheat
Unwrap the Irish soda bread, transfer it to a baking sheet, and warm it at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-15 minutes. The total time will depend on how much of the loaf remains.
- 4 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 14 ounces buttermilk
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
- 1 cup raisins, optional
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Alternatively, grab a preseasoned 10-12 inch cast iron skillet. Otherwise, the bread will stick.
- Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
- Sprinkle the cubed butter over the dry ingredients, then cut the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter, the tines of a fork, or by hand until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. If doing this by hand, use a squeezing/pinching motion. Stir in the raisins if using.
- Whisk the buttermilk and egg together in a smaller bowl.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients as you mix by hand until you have a crumbly, stiff dough.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, form the dough into a ball, and knead until no dry patches of flour remain.
- Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet (or cast iron skillet), then use a sharp knife to score an “X” shape into the top of the loaf about ½ inch deep.
- Place into the oven to bake for 45 minutes or until the Irish soda bread is golden brown. To ensure that the bread has cooked through, insert a probe thermometer. The internal temperature should be between 190 and 195 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove the loaf from the oven, and transfer it to a cooling rack after 10-12 minutes.
- Leave to cool for another 10 minutes before you slice and serve the bread. It is best served warm.
You can also use a mixture of raisins and dried cherries in the bread.
Loosely cover the loaf with foil if it gets too brown on the top.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 282Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 32mgSodium: 358mgCarbohydrates: 48gFiber: 2gSugar: 12gProtein: 7g
This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix.
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