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Traditional Irish Soda Bread is a delicious quick bread, requiring no yeast or rise time, and done in just 1 hour from start to finish. Its dense, moist texture makes it a wonderful side or satiating snack.

I came across Irish Soda Bread for the first time when I was looking for traditional Irish food to serve for our St. Patrick’s Day feast. With strong Irish roots, this holiday has always been a fun one for our family. 

In fact, I have put together an entire homeschool curriculum that teaches the Christian origins of the day. It’s loaded full of fun activities including this recipe!

Is Irish Soda Bread really Irish?

While this classic bread is a staple in many Irish homes today, the idea behind this yeast-free bread can actually be traced back to Native Americans. It is said that Irish immigrants learned from the Natives how to leaven bread using pearl ash, a natural form of what we now call baking soda. 

This skill brought back to their homeland became a matter of survival during rough times. Commercial baking soda was introduced in 1830. In 1845 when the Irish Potato Famine caused widespread food shortages, this quick and inexpensive bread earned its place as a staple on Irish tables.

Also, soft wheat flour tends to work better in quick breads such as this one. Ireland’s climate is more conducive to growing soft wheat instead of hard wheat, which made the recipe a perfect fit.

What ingredients do you need?

The ingredients are very simple! The traditional ingredients were just all-purpose flour, baking soda, salt, and sour milk. Nowadays, we use cultured buttermilk in place of sour milk, as it gives the same acidity and tang. This recipe adds a little sugar and baking powder for a touch of sweetness and a little extra oomph. 

What makes Irish Soda Bread different?

The bread is unique in that it tastes similar to yeast-based bread but instead uses baking soda and buttermilk to get its rise. 

What is Irish Soda Bread served with?

The denser texture and hard crust make this bread perfect for dunking in a bowl of soup. I think it would also pair well with any saucy dish that can be sopped up. Alternatively, slice this bread very thin and top with cream cheese and veggies. With its versatility, you’ll find yourself making this recipe often!

How do you store Irish Soda bread?

One word of caution: this bread dries out quickly! As soon as it is cool, it needs to be wrapped up and stored in an airtight bag or container. Of course, that’s assuming you have any left to store!

Can it be frozen?

Yes! To freeze this bread, wrap it first in plastic wrap and then foil. Make sure it is airtight. To serve, simply thaw! Optionally, you can pop it in a 350 degree F oven to warm.

How to Make The Best Irish Soda Bread

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

Into a medium bowl, or a food processor if you have one, add 4 cups of all-purpose flour. Make sure you are using sifted flour, otherwise you won’t get the correct texture. To do this easily, just stir with a whisk briefly before scooping. 

Add 2 tablespoons of white sugar (raw cane sugar is best!), 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 tablespoon baking powder, and ½ teaspoon salt (double this if using unsalted butter). Whisk the dry ingredients together. If you are going the food processor method, just give it a few pulses. 

Cut up your ¼ cup cold butter with a knife, being careful not to touch it. The butter can be omitted in a pinch but adds nicely to the texture and flavor. Cut the butter in with a pastry blender, fork, or if you are lazy like me, a few pulses in the food processor. 

At this point, you would carefully remove the blade from the food processor and set it aside. 

Now slowly add in 1 ½ cups of buttermilk, mixing the dough together with your hand until all of the dry ingredients are moistened. 

Dump the dough onto a clean surface and knead gently for a few minutes until the dough looks consistent throughout.

Shape into a rounded ball in a greased pie pan. Press down slightly. 

Slash an X into the top of the bread. This helps the bread rise and gives it a traditional look. 

Place the pan in the oven for about 50 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. 

Remove the bread immediately from the pan and cool on a cooling rack. As tempting as it is, don’t slice into it until cooled slightly for the best texture.

Enjoy!

The Best Irish Soda Bread Recipe

The Best Irish Soda Bread Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Traditional Irish Soda Bread is a delicious quick bread, requiring no yeast or rise time, and done in just 1 hour from start to finish. It’s dense, moist texture makes it a wonderful side or satiating snack.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (double this if using unsalted butter)
  • 1 ½ cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup salted butter, cold
  • ¼ cup butter, melted

Instructions

    1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
    2. To a medium bowl or a food processor if you have one, add 4 cups of all-purpose flour.
    3. Add 2 tablespoons of white sugar (raw cane sugar is best!), 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 tablespoon baking powder, and ½ teaspoon salt (double this if using unsalted butter). Whisk the dry ingredients together. If you are going the food processor method, just give it a few pulses.
    4. Cut up your ¼ cup cold butter with a knife, being careful not to touch it. The butter can be omitted in a pinch but adds nicely to the texture and flavor. Cut the butter in with a pastry blender, fork, or if you are lazy like me, a few pulses in the food processor.
    5. Carefully remove the blade from the food processor and set it aside. Now slowly add in 1 ½ cups of buttermilk, mixing the dough together with your hand until all of the dry ingredients are moistened. 
    6. Dump the dough onto a clean surface and knead gently for a few minutes until the dough looks consistent throughout.
    7. Shape into a rounded ball in a greased pie pan. Press down slightly. 
    8. Slash an X into the top of the bread. This keeps the bread from cracking in other places when it rises and gives it a traditional look. 
    9. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until golden brown.
    10. Remove the bread immediately from the pan and cool on a cooling rack. As tempting as it is, don’t slice into it until cooled slightly for the best texture.

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