This traditional Irish Soda Bread recipe is a delicious no-yeast bread that uses buttermilk and baking soda for leavening. An easy addition to an Irish dinner menu for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration!
What is Irish soda bread?
As its name would imply, Irish soda bread is a simple no-yeast bread which originated in Ireland. The dense chewy bread made with simple ingredients became an Irish staple during the potato famine in Ireland in the late 1800’s. This rustic bread recipe uses soda (baking soda) and buttermilk for leavening instead of yeast.
What does traditional Irish soda bread taste like?
This traditional soda bread won’t taste like most homemade breads, since it doesn’t use yeast as a leavener. The flavor is mild and the bread tastes similar to a biscuit or English scone. This recipe adds raisins for a bit of added flavor and sweetness.
Like a biscuit or scone, Irish soda bread is best served with a topping such as honey or jam, or served with a meal or soup to sop up broth.
Related: Our Favorite Soup Recipes
What is in Irish soda bread?
Traditional Irish soda bread contains just a few inexpensive, readily available ingredients:
- baking soda
plus optional raisins for added sweetness and flavor.
Can I substitute regular milk instead of buttermilk?
No! The acidity of the buttermilk combines with the base of the baking soda to form a chemical reaction that leavens the bread. Remember your 3rd grade science project, the volcano? Same idea, only the volcanic gas is creating air bubbles inside the bread dough, causing it to rise and giving it a nice chewy texture.
How do I make my own buttermilk?
If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, or don’t want to buy an entire carton, you can make your own buttermilk replacement by mixing regular cow’s milk with a bit of lemon juice or vinegar.
Mix 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice with 1 scant cup (just less than a cup) of milk. Let the mixture stand for 5-10 minutes to thicken, then use in your recipe.
Alternately, you can thin yogurt, sour cream, or kefir with a bit of milk as a substitute for buttermilk. It’s important to have both the dairy and the acid components for the texture and leavening of the bread.
How do I keep the raisins from sinking to the bottom of the bread?
Toss the raisins with a bit of flour to even coat them before mixing them into the bread during the last step of mixing (before kneading). The flour coating on the raisins “sticks” with the flour and baking soda mixture in the bread to help the raisins stay evenly distributed instead of sinking.
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How do you make Irish soda bread from scratch?
The full recipe is below, but similar to many unleavened no-yeast breads:
- Combine dry ingredients.
- Cut in butter using a pastry cutter/blender.
- Combine wet ingredients and add to dry ingredients.
- Knead in flour until the dough is no longer sticky.
- Shape and bake in a Dutch oven, skillet, or cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
So simple! Make it together as a family for a new St. Patrick’s Day tradition.
Irish Soda Bread Recipe
Irish Soda Bread
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (1/2 stick)
- 1¾ cups cold buttermilk shaken
- 1 Egg lightly beaten
- 1 cup raisins (optional)
- Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl - flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.
- Place raisins in a bowl and add about 2 teaspoons flour mixture, coat raisins (this will help them from settling on the bottom)
- Using a pastry blender or mixer, cut in cold butter
- In a small bowl, combine buttermilk and egg, beat lightly with a fork. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients.
- Fold raisins into mixture
- On a heavily floured surface, knead dough. Work with about half of the dough, it's easier that way. You want to add enough flour so it's not sticky, but not too much flour
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line dutch oven with parchment paper or spray with non-stick cooking spray. You can also use a cast iron skillet, baking dish or cookie sheet.
- Form dough into a ball, and place in a pan. Using a sharp knife, make an X on the top of the bread.
- Bake for about 45-60 minutes depending on the size of your loaf.
- Store in airtight container
More bread recipes and tips:
- Easy Artisan Bread Recipe
- 16 Useful Tips for Baking Bread
- 25 Copycat Bread Recipes
- 25 Gluten-Free Bread Recipes