Have you ever had Irish soda bread before? It’s not a typical bread that you see in restaurants, bakeries or in grocery stores. So, I thought it would be fun to share it with all of you in the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day. It’s a basic quick bread that’s simple to make and is often served warm, slathered with butter and honey or jam, or alongside a hearty Irish stew.
The signature feature of Irish soda bread is the cross that is cut into the top of the loaf before baking. It is said that the cross helps the bread rise and also serves as a way to bless the bread in Irish culture.
Traditional Irish soda bread is made with baking soda and soft wheat flour (cake and pastry flour) rather than hard wheat flour (all-purpose flour). It’s a basic quick bread that’s simple to make and pairs well with stews, soups and hearty meals. Of course, it is very popular to make for St. Patrick’s Day.
- Cake and pastry flour
- Granulated sugar
- Baking soda
Irish Soda Bread Varieties
This traditional Irish soda bread is basically one giant biscuit! It’s easy to add flavour like cheddar cheese and chives and your favourite herbs! Have fun and play around, but I always suggest trying the recipe as it is first, then play and try new varieties.
- Cheddar cheese
- Mixed herbs; rosemary, chive, etc.
- Sweet bread; chocolate chips
What makes Irish Soda bread, Soda bread?
This recipe differs in its use of baking soda instead of yeast and calls for soft wheat flour (cake and pastry flour) rather than hard wheat flour (all-purpose flour). The Irish use soft wheat because that’s what grew well in their climate, as hard wheat did not. And yeast does not work well with soft flour. The chemical reaction of baking soda and buttermilk is what makes this bread rise. Because of this process, it makes a denser bread but is very simple to make as there is no real kneading and there is no wait time to let the bread rise and proof. It’s basically mix, bake, and voila – you have bread!
Irish soda bread is typically eaten with a main meal and used to soak up gravy. It was a basic in the Irish home where dinner was made in a pot or casserole over the fire, or baked on a bakestone (or an iron plate) and placed directly on the embers – no ovens needed!
Using Cake and Pastry Flour for Traditional Irish Soda Bread
I do have to say using soft flour (cake and pastry flour) for bread tastes a little strange. First, we aren’t really accustomed to it and it feels like your taste buds are trying to trick your brain or vice-versa (I’m eating bread but it tastes cakey)!
Can you use all-purpose flour instead of cake and pastry flour?
Traditionally Irish soda bread is made with soft wheat (cake & pastry flour). But yes, you can use hard wheat if you like (all-purpose flour) but the flavour will be significantly different. Most recipes that you see online will be made with all-purpose or a mix of the two. I’m not exactly sure why or when the change happened. Perhaps over time we’ve been more accustomed to the taste of harder flour so the switch was made.
How To Make Traditional Irish Soda Bread
Step One: Make your batter by adding the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Mix together. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour buttermilk into the middle. Using a wooden spoon incorporate the flour into the buttermilk until dough comes together. Using your hands, bring the dough into a ball.
Step Two: Place dough in the middle of a cast-iron skillet, then using a sharp knife mark an ‘X’ on the top of the dough. Place in the middle of the oven and bake. Voila!
Cheddar cheese variation – same method with grated cheese added to the batter.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day baking!Print
Traditional Irish Soda Bread
Irish Soda Bread is made with baking soda and soft wheat flour (cake and pastry flour) rather than hard wheat flour (all-purpose flour). It’s a basic quick bread that’s simple to make and pairs well with stews, soups and hearty meals.
- Prep Time: 5 mins
- Cook Time: 35 mins
- Total Time: 40 mins
- Yield: 1 loaf 1x
- Category: Breakfast
- Cuisine: Irish
- 4 cups Cake and Pastry flour, sifted
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups buttermilk
- Preheat oven to 425˚F.
- In a large bowl add flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Mix together.
- Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture, pour buttermilk into the middle. Using a wooden spoon incorporate the flour into the buttermilk until dough comes together. Using your hands, knead dough into a ball.
- Place dough in the middle of a cast-iron skillet. Using a sharp knife mark an ‘X’ on the top of the dough. Place in the middle of the oven and bake for 35 – 40 minutes.
- Let cool on a cooling rack for 10 minutes.
- Enjoy warm.
Irish Soda Bread is traditionally made with soft wheat (cake & pastry flour). You can use hard wheat if you like (all-purpose flour) but the flavour will be significantly different.
– butter & jam
– butter & honey
– hearty meals with gravy
Best enjoyed the same day, fresh from the oven. Store bread in an airtight container or reusable bag for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
- Serving Size: 1 slice
- Calories: 184
- Sugar: 3.6g
- Sodium: 410mg
- Fat: 0.8g
- Saturated Fat: 0.3
- Unsaturated Fat: 0
- Trans Fat: 0
- Carbohydrates: 40.4g
- Fiber: 1.6g
- Protein: 6.4
- Cholesterol: 2mg
Keywords: Bread, Quick Bread, Traditional Irish Soda Bread, St.Patrick’s Day
Irish soda bread is best when it is served fresh and warm from the oven. The bread will last 2-3 days stored in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag or store in the freezer for up to 2-3 months.
Yes, Irish soda bread can be made with a variety of flavours like;
– Cheddar cheese
– Mixed herbs; rosemary, chive, etc.
– Sweet bread; chocolate chips
The traditional ingredients used to make Irish soda bread are soft flour like cake and pastry flour or a type of wholemeal flour, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk. In the past, these simple ingredients were readily available and very affordable for most households in Ireland, making Irish soda bread a popular staple in the Irish cuisine.
You may also like: