You are in for a treat with this traditional Irish soda bread that takes less than an hour to make. Despite the name, Irish soda bread, there is no soda (beverage) in the recipe. In fact it is made with baking soda and buttermilk used to leaven the bread in place of yeast, hence the name. It's a soft bread that is perfect slathered with butter.
Irish soda bread is considered a quick bread. A quick bread is a bread leavened with something like baking powder or baking soda, instead of yeast.
For this recipe, the main leavening agent is bicarbonate soda, more commonly known as baking soda.
This is where we get a bit scientific.
Baking soda is an alkaline and to produce a reaction it needs an acid. Buttermilk will be the acid that will react with the baking soda. The two combined will give the Irish soda bread the oomph it needs to expand.
It's like in elementary science when you make the volcano with baking soda and vinegar. The two combine and expands, puffs up and goes everywhere. Isn't science great?
What you are left with is a crisp exterior and a very soft, tender middle. You can make it your own by adding more raisins, or no raisins. You could also add currants, which is a popular ingredient.
It seems wrong to even have an ingredient section. But here it is!
- all purpose flour
- sugar - I like to use cane sugar, but you can use white or another variety
- baking soda
- Irish butter - if you don't have Irish butter it's fine to substitute regular butter, however I would discourage using margarine
How To Make Irish Soda Bread
Grab a nice large bowl and stir together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Cube 3 tablespoons of Irish butter and using your hands, combine the butter and dry ingredients until it's mixed in well.
Add in the raisins and give them a stir.
It's easiest to mix up the buttermilk and egg together. Start by measuring out 2 cups and 2 tablespoons buttermilk, then add in the egg and mix it together with a fork.
When you add this in to the batter be mindful to keep just a little bit of it left in the measuring glass. You'll use this to brush on the bread before baking.
Use your hands or a spoon to make a well in the middle of the bowl of dry ingredients. Pour in the buttermilk/egg mixture. And remember, keep a little in the measuring cup for later.
If you forget it's okay, you can always brush on a bit of plain buttermilk.
This Irish soda bread dough should be worked as little as possible. So instead of a stand mixer you are using your hand. Make a claw with your hand and stick it straight down into the bowl. Use it to pull the dry into the wet and combine everything.
At this point you could add more buttermilk if it seems like it's still a bit dry on the bottom of the bowl, and what I mean is if you have mixed it together and there's still lot of flour on the bottom of the bowl. You may have been heavy handed scooping out the flour and that alright, just add in another splash of buttermilk.
This is a rustic recipe and doesn't need to look or be perfect.
Once the dough is together roll it out on a floured counter. Again, not manipulating it more than you have to, take both your hands and in a cradling motion scoop it inward creating a disc shape.
Flip it over and do the same. Transfer it over to a baking sheet. I like to line mine with parchment paper but it's not necessary. Take a knife and make a cross in the center. This is the blessing for the bread. It also helps the bread cook in the center and let steam escape.
If your knife is getting stuck, try dipping it in flour first. Then brush on the excess egg/buttermilk mixture.
Bake for 20 minutes at 425, drop the temperature down to 400 and bake an additional 20 minutes. No peeking! Keep the oven door closed.
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- 4 c all purpose flour
- 2 tbsp cane sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp Irish butter
- ½ c raisins
- 1 egg
- 2 c buttermilk
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
- Stir together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt
- Use your hands to mix in the butter
- Toss the raisins in the dry ingredients and make a well in the center of the bowl
- Measure out the buttermilk in a measuring glass, then add in the egg and stir it together
- Pour this in the well you made, leaving just a little in the measuring glass (for brushing on the bread before baking)
- Make your hand into a claw and mix together the dry and wet ingredients until it comes together
- If you need more buttermilk just add a splash at a time
- Sprinkle a counter with flour and roll the dough out, use your hands to gently bring the dough together in a scooping motion but do not knead it or overwork it
- Flip it over and do the same again, then pat down to a thickness of 1 ½"
- Take a knife dipped in flour and score the top with a deep x (this is the cross on the bread, the blessing)
- Brush on the excess buttermilk/egg mixture
- Bake at 425 for 20 minutes then reduce the heat to 400 and bake an additional 20 minutes
- Serve right away
Depending on how heavy handed when scoop the flour, you may need more buttermilk for your bread.
Keep in mind this is a rustic loaf of bread, it does not need to be perfect and precise.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 227Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 25mgSodium: 407mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 1gSugar: 8gProtein: 6g
This information comes from online calculators. Although moderncrumb.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.