This traditional soda bread only has four ingredients and comes together quickly without kneading. Great on its own or with caraway seeds, raisins, or nuts.
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Table of Contents
- About Traditional Irish Soda Bread
- What is Irish soda bread?
- Where did soda bread come from?
- What does soda bread taste like?
- What other flavors can you add?
- How long does Irish soda bread last?
- Can you freeze soda bread?
- Notes & tips for this authentic soda bread:
- Other festive Irish recipes
- How to make Irish soda bread
- Recipe Details
About Traditional Irish Soda Bread
We all have our culinary weaknesses, and for me, baking bread is one of them. There’s some sort of magic in creating the perfect loaf that just doesn’t seem to exist within my fingertips without a lot of trial and error.
But, thankfully, for those two left spatulas like myself who still wish they could make fresh bread at home, there is hope.
Because there are easy, fool-proof bread recipes out there that anyone can make.
And this Irish soda bread is one of them.
What is Irish soda bread?
Unlike most bread recipes, traditional soda bread doesn’t use yeast, eggs, butter, or sugar. Instead, the baking soda serves as the leveling agent (hence this bread’s name) and the chemical reaction with the buttermilk helps create a moist, spongy bread.
Where did soda bread come from?
The origins of this bread aren’t so much tied to a place as they are to a class. In most cases, soda bread was popular in the “poor country,” since the low cost of the main ingredients made them easy to come by for those with little means. And because of this, soda bread was a recipe born out of necessity in different places around the same time.
There are variations of this bread that date back to colonists of the Americas, the farmlands of Scottland and Ireland, holiday celebrations in Serbia, and even the Australian bush – but for the most part, they all keep the same four core ingredients.
What does soda bread taste like?
The taste of this bread is very mild and similar in flavor to a biscuit. But as with most bread, it’s not designed to be eaten on its own; it’s meant to be an accent to other flavors typically served with bread, like butter, jam, or meat.
What other flavors can you add?
If you’d like to enjoy this bread on its own, there are a few ingredients you can add to the recipe to give the bread a bit more flavor. When making this recipe, you can add a combined total of 1/2 to 1 cup of any of the below options:
- Caraway seeds
- Dried fruit (such as cherries)
How long does Irish soda bread last?
Once prepared, this bread should remain good in a sealed container for up to one week.
Can you freeze soda bread?
Yes, you totally can!
When stored in an airtight container or freezer bag, this soda bread will be good for about two or three months.
Notes & tips for this authentic soda bread:
- When baking this recipe, I used two round cake pans (one to place the bread in and another flipped upside down and placed on top of the bottom pan). I’ve found this method works best to get the right size and bake quality for the bread.
Other festive Irish recipes
How to make Irish soda bread
This next part is only a photo tutorial of the recipe steps. If you’re looking for the full recipe measurements and instructions, scroll down to Recipe Details.
Step 1 – In a large bowl, add the flour, baking soda, and salt, then use a whisk to mix them together. If you’re adding any additional flavors or seds, do it now.
Step 2 – Adding a little at a time, pour the buttermilk in with the dry ingredients, mixing inbetween. The dough will be clumpy and a little hard to work with it, but keep stirring as best you can.
Step 3 – Dust a work area and your hands with flour, then bring over the soda bread dough. No need to knead the dough; just gently roll it into a smooth ball.
Step 4 – Spray a round baking pan with cooking spray, then drop the soda bread dough ball inside. Use your fingers to gently press the bread toward the edges, making it an even layer.
Step 5 – Score the top of the bread in a pattern you like (I just used an X), then cover the top with another round baking pan.
Step 6 – Bake!
Step 7 – Serve and enjoy!
Traditional Irish Soda Bread
- In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.
- Once buttermilk is incorporated, transfer dough to a floured surface. Generously flour your hands and knead the dough a few times until it has a smooth, round shape, but be careful: how much you knead the dough at this stage will impact the density of the bread. Less kneading will give a lighter, more airy bread; kneading more will create a dense loaf (like pictured).
- Transfer dough ball to prepared baking pan and gently press the dough toward the edges of the pan so that it forms a disk. For decoration, use a sharp knife to cut an X in the top of the dough, making each cut about 1/4 of an inch deep.
- Cover baking pan with another round baking pan turned upside down.
- Bake soda bread, covered, for 30 minutes, then remove the top baking pan. Bake uncovered for an additional 10 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
- Remove soda bread from the oven. Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely. Dust the top of the bread with a small amount of baking soda (optional).
- Cut and serve bread immediately.
I do my best to provide nutrition information, but please keep in mind that I’m not a certified nutritionist. Any nutritional information discussed or disclosed in this post should only be seen as my best amateur estimates of the correct values.