Traditional Irish Soda Bread is one of the easiest and quickest breads there is to make. Comprised of flour and buttermilk, along with sugar, salt and baking soda, thrown in for good measure. No kneading or proofing. You can have fresh bread within the hour!
Just like with Wheaten Bread, a cross is make in the top of the loaf just before baking. This is to let the faeries out and to ward off evil and in doing so protecting the household. Non superstitious people mark their cross as a blessing and give thanks for the provision of bread. From a food science standpoint, the slicing of the bread dough expands the surface tension and allows the bread to rise to its fullest.
- Flour: white, all purpose.
- Baking Soda.
- Sugar: granulated.
- Buttermilk: preferably full fat.
In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, sugar and baking soda.
Pour in the buttermilk and mix. I use a spoon at first, then I use my hands.
Form the bread dough into a ‘bannock’ (round shape with a flattened top) in the bowl.
Transfer the bannock onto a Siplat mat, or parchment paper on a baking pan. Using a serrated knife, make a cross in the top. Place in a preheated 350 degrees F. oven for about 45-55 minutes.
Test the doneness of the bread by holding the hot bread in a clean drying cloth and knocking on the bottom of the bread. If it sounds hollow, then it’s done. Another test is to push down on the surface of the bread. If it sinks, as if the dough is still wet, then return it to the oven. Check every 5 minutes until you get a hollow sound and no sinking texture when pushing the surface.
Changing this recipe for Traditional Irish Soda Bread in any way, takes a step away from its authenticity. It will also alter the nutritional value, calorie content, flavor profile, and appearance.
In place of all purpose flour, use whole wheat, rice flour, or chick pea. With rice flour and chick pea flour check the manufacturer’s recommendations for substituting them for all purpose flour.
Feel free to use different types of salt, such as Celtic salt, table or Kosher salt.
Sugar options include coconut, date or brown sugar.
Use low fat buttermilk if full fat is unavailable. If you don’t have any buttermilk, then make some by souring regular milk by adding 1 ½ tbsp of white distilled vinegar into 10 oz whole milk. Wait 5 minutes for the souring process to complete.
Add some dried fruit, like currants, raisins and /or sultanas to Traditional Irish Soda Bread, to make a fruit soda. Incorporate 6 oz of dried fruit to the dry ingredients at the beginning, to transform this bread into a fruit Soda Bread.
I’ve noticed over the years, additional ingredients creep their way into Soda Bread recipes. Ingredients such as walnuts, Guinness, syrup, honey, orange zest, herbs and oats all sound like interesting flavor components but they do not make Traditional Irish Soda Bread.
Uses for Traditional Irish Soda Bread
Traditional Irish Soda Bread generally makes an appearance around St. Patrick’s Day in the States, usually nestled on the dinner plate somewhere between the corned beef and cabbage.
In Ireland, particularly where I am from (the province of Ulster,) Soda Bread is a staple in the home, either in the form of a bannock or as a farl (flatbread cooked on a griddle).
It is almost mandatory to serve Traditional Irish Soda Bread with Traditional Guiness Beef Stew.
At breakfast serve Irish Soda Bread toasted with butter. Make sandwiches from it, and use it as an accompaniment to soups, cheeses and salads.
I’ve sliced Irish Soda Bread thinly and toasted the slices to make crostini.
Other Irish recipes in this blog include:
Store Traditional Irish Bread in an airtight container rather than a bread bin. Store at room temperature.
Freeze Soda Bread for up to 6 months, defrost in the refrigerator. Stale Irish Soda Bread is great for toasting.
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A Tip From Me
Did you know there’s a Society For the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread. This organisation is dedicated to protecting the national culinary treasure that Soda Bread is. They encourage people to get to know their Irish roots and learn to make traditional Irish soda bread.
You only need this recipe in order to make Traditional Irish Soda Bread.
I’ve got answers – hopefully!
- Should Traditional Irish Soda Bread be served warm or cold? No bread should ever be served cold. Either warm or at room temperature. Serve Soda Bread at room temperature if it is an accompaniment to a meal. If incorporated into an Ulster Fry, then it is fried, usually in bacon fat. It is also a great bread for toasting. It can be served warm but as it is served with Irish butter, the butter can melt off the bread and make a mess, so I recommend eating it at room temperature.
- Is Soda Bread served with sweet or savory toppings? Either! It is always slathered in butter. This can be topped with fruit preserve or honey as a sweet treat. Likewise, layers of sliced cheddar cheese or cold deli meats pair well with the texture and flavor of Soda Bread.
- When I make Soda Bread, it falls apart, why? Too much flour and too little buttermilk. Also the dough may have been unnecessarily kneaded. Follow this recipe to avoid repeating this mistake.
- What cheese goes well with Traditional Irish Soda Bread? I would say any type of Irish Cheddar. Most, if not all Irish Cheddars are grass fed, and the Kerrygold brand of dairy is quite easily found in most supermarkets in the U.S.
Traditional Irish Soda Bread
- 1 lb all purpose flour
- 10 oz full fat buttermilk
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, sugar and baking soda.
- Pour in the buttermilk and mix. Use a spoon at first, then use your hands.
- Form the bread dough into a 'bannock' (round shape with a flattened top) in the bowl.
- Transfer the bannock onto a Siplat mat, or parchment paper on a baking pan. Using a serrated knife, make a cross in the top. Place in a preheated 350 degrees F. oven for about 45-55 minutes.
- Test the doneness of the bread by holding the hot bread in a clean drying cloth and knocking on the bottom of the bread. If it sounds hollow, then it's done. Another test is to push down on the surface of the bread. If it sinks, as if the dough is still wet, then return it to the oven and check every 5 minutes until you get a hollow sound and no sinking texture when the surface is pushed.