A recipe for a simple and traditional real Irish Soda Bread. This easy recipe is especially great for beginner cooks or anyone who wants an easy and simple homemade bread. It’s quick to make too.
There once was a little green man
Who was stopped whilst in Ireland
“Wrong man you have got,
pot of gold I have not,
not leprechaun but Yoda I am!”
I couldn’t resist this Irish limerick I came across. The hospital I work for invited all of its employees to a special showing of Star Wars and the Force was still strong in this one.
I have no good segue for this post so I’m just going to start talking about Irish Soda Bread. Speaking of Irish Soda Bread…
When reading about traditional Irish recipes, I often come across simple and hearty fare, usually invented out of necessity. Often times it is the most simplest recipes that are the best. Every household in Ireland had their version of a simple soda bread, Colcannon, Champ, Boxty potato pancake recipe and Coddle.
In these recipes, whatever was on hand was used. Mutton and fish were common meats and most people could afford it. Sheep that were no longer needed for fleece were often harvested before the next Winter as it was expensive to feed animals through the cold season. The tough mutton was stewed for a long time in order to make it tender and Irish Stew was born.
Each recipe has few ingredients and substitutions were often made depending on whatever was on hand. Coddle is famous for this. Since Catholics were forbidden from eating meat on Fridays, Coddle was often made on Thursdays and the leftover meat was tossed in there.
Today we are going to tackle traditional Irish Soda Bread. Authentic and traditional Irish Soda Bread has only four ingredients, wheat flour, salt, buttermilk and baking soda.
What is traditional Irish Soda Bread?
A simple, easy bread that uses bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) instead of yeast.
Irish Soda Bread may actually have originated in North America. Native Americans were already making bread using potash as a leavener in their bread. Potash is potassium carbonate, a precursor to the use of sodium bicarbonate.
The first published recipe for soda bread hit print in 1796 in the cookbook American Cookery. This was a means of making quick and cheap bread for everybody. Soda bread didn’t show up in Europe until the mid-1800’s, spreading pretty quickly as the 4 ingredients were readily available to most cultures.
Soft wheat is commonly used in Ireland. You can make this with cake or pastry flour. I made this with a mix of cake and all purpose flour also known as plain flour. The texture is a dense, flavorful bread. Slicing and toasting this really brings out the character in this rustic bread. It’s amazing smothered with butter, in case you needed to know that.
How is Irish Soda Bread served?
Soda bread is a rustic accompaniment to soups, stews, corn beef and cabbage, smoked salmon, bangers, eggs etc. So basically everything.
I like to eat it toasted and smothered in butter with a drizzle of honey or a bit of fruit preserves. Cranberry sauce would be pretty amazing also. This bread when toasted has a nice, hefty crunch.
I have not tried toasting it in a skillet yet but that is one of the things I want to try. What is your favorite way to serve or re-heat rustic bread? Let us know.
Good luck, may the luck of the Irish be with you!
More Irish Recipes
Tips for keeping bread fresh
Bread can go stale faster in the refrigerator so I like to wrap it in plastic and keep on my counter for up to 2 days. It’s usually gone by the first day so not a big problem in my house. If you do find yourself with extra bread after 1 or 2 days, simply wrap tightly in plastic and keep in the freezer until ready to use. When you re-warm it, the bread will taste fresh again.Print
A recipe for a simple and traditional real Irish Soda Bread. This easy recipe is especially great for beginner cooks or anyone who wants an easy and simple homemade bread. This recipe is quick too!
- 2 1/4 cups (280g) of all purpose flour (plain flour) plus a little more for kneading and dusting
- 1 3/4 cups (200g) of cake flour (low protein flour)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk (350g)
- Preheat oven to 375F (191C)
- In a large bowl add first 3 ingredients. Stir or whisk until well blended.
- Pour buttermilk into dry ingredients and using your fingers or wooden spoon, gently mix ingredients until roughly mixed, pour out onto floured surface.
- Gently knead bread into a round dome shape and place on a piece of parchment paper that is on a baking sheet or cast iron skillet. Cut a deep cross in it (to let the fairies out), sprinkle the top with flour.
- Bake for about 45 minutes or until gold brown in the middle of the oven. It is done when you tap the bottom of the loaf you have a hollow sound instead of a flat sound.
- Weighing your flour is the most accurate method since flour will settle which makes measuring flour with measuring cups inaccurate. If you don’t have a scale, sift the flour first, then use measure cups. Don’t use the measuring cups that are designed for liquid (it has a pour spout), use the scoop measuring cups instead for flour. This will make your measurement more accurate with dry ingredients.
- If the dough is not coming together in a cohesive mound, try adding more buttermilk. This is a messy dough that is lightly kneaded and put in the pre-heated oven right away.