Irish Soda Bread – Recipe

Irish Soda Bread
Irish Soda Bread

Irish soda bread is great to have in your arsenal. It it is leavened with baking soda and buttermilk instead of yeast, so you can go from conception to hot bread on the table in under an hour, with only a few minutes of active work. It adapts beautifully to being made with half whole wheat flour to boost the nutritional value, and it is fun to make with kids. You can add raisins or currants or caraway seeds, or just leave it plain, to suit your mood or menu.

As an aside, I’ve been enjoying keeping buttermilk as a staple lately. In the past I never had it around, so if the urge came over me to make buttermilk pancakes, or biscuits, or soda bread, I’d either use powdered buttermilk, or forge some kind of substitution with milk and vinegar, or yogurt and so on. Those can all be good, but buttermilk itself is more consistent in most recipes, and it lasts quite awhile in the fridge, so it is isn’t a big deal to keep on hand.

In the recipe below, I call for half pastry flour and half whole wheat flour. The pastry flour will give you a more tender bread, but all purpose is fine too. Or you could use half all purpose and half whole wheat pastry flour. Basically any four cups of wheat-based flour is going to be fine, depending on your pantry and desire.

Irish Soda Bread
Makes 1 large loaf
Vegetarian; not vegan or gluten-free
Adapted from Saveur magazine

  • 2 cups pastry flour (see note above)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cool
  • 1 cup raisins or currants, or 1.5 tablespoons caraway seeds, or nothing
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Sift together the flours, sugar, salt, and baking soda.
  2. Cut the butter into the flour with two knives or a pastry cutter, as when making a pie crust. (Tip: if your butter is frozen, microwave it for ten seconds at a time until it is cuttable).
  3. Add the remaining ingredients, mix well with a spoon, then knead right in the bowl for couple of minutes. It should be moist but firm enough to form a ball. If not, add a bit more flour.
  4. Shape into a large ball, place on a greased (or silpat-covered) cookie sheet, and make an X in the top with a sharp knife.
  5. Bake for about 40 minutes until golden brown, and sounds hollow when rapped on the bottom. Better yet, use an instant read thermometer to look for an internal temperature of 180 degrees. That is a much more reliable way to gauge doneness. If the bread browns too fast, cover it with a tinfoil tent until it is done.
  6. Allow to cool for a few minutes, and serve with swaths of sweet cream butter.

Irish Soda Bread on Foodista

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Posted by Michael Natkin on Monday, November 10th, 2008 in Baking, Breakfast, Kid Friendly, Recipes, Side Dishes.

6 Responses to “Irish Soda Bread – Recipe”

  1. John
    March 5, 2012 at 4:51 am #

    I tried an A/B test of this against my old standby, the Joy of Cooking recipe. Pros: this recipe uses much less butter, and somewhat less soda, getting some “rise”, I suppose, from including the egg. So: less fat, more protein. Cons: You’re supposed to knead this one, which is messy and takes time. I can whip up the Joy recipe in no time at all by comparison. Neutral: They end up quite similar, although the flavor of the Joy verison is a little richer, and its texture is a little more fall-apart-ish. To get your recipe to a “form a ball” consistency, I had to add quite a bit more flour, which was awkward when my hands were all sticky from kneading. Summary: both loaves disappeared within a couple of hours in the house, so I think they’re both just fine. But I’ll probably go with the lower-mess, quicker-preparation Joy recipe in the future.

  2. October 4, 2012 at 1:08 am #

    Thanks for another great recipe, Michael! I make bread for my family every day on a Sourdough starter. Tomorrow I’ll try this recipe for a change. My hubby is Irish – he will appreciate that more than anyone)))

  3. Nancy
    October 4, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

    This recipe will definitely go into my “to do” file. How wonderful to treat guests with fresh bread for breakfast, or with a bowl of soup for lunch or dinner. Autumn is definitely here in Wisconsin. Thanks, Nancy

  4. Moira
    February 5, 2013 at 8:00 am #

    My sister and I have been playing with various soda bread recipes recently. Some call for cream, some add baking powder along with the baking soda, some use no butter (the recipes with cream), and this is the first I’ve seen that uses an egg and buttermilk in combination.

    A light kneading, to pull the dough together is part of all the recipes we’ve tried, and certainly part of our mother’s ritual, baking either soda bread or the wheat loaf. Michael’s 9oz. of flour does seem on the “light” side … will try it out !

    My sister and I started this trial when we discovered last St.Patrick’s day, that soda bread is one of our kids’ favorite foods! With Irish parents, we felt compelled to learn how to bake the best one.

  5. Don Modaro
    May 20, 2013 at 8:04 am #

    Do you provide the nutritional value for you recipes somewhere?

    • May 20, 2013 at 8:19 am #

      Hey Don – no, I’m sorry to say I don’t. I believe there are some online calculators where you can plug them in fairly easily.

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