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Traditional Irish Soda Bread

Recipe Level: Easy Recipes

This traditional Irish soda bread is a simple bread made with only 5 ingredients. The bread is rustic, hearty in texture and has a slightly tangy flavour that comes from the buttermilk. It's dense and crumbly, with a slightly crunchy crust and a soft, moist interior.

Baked by Alie Romano

Professional Baker and Recipe Developer

* For best results, read the entire article. Every step matters, and I’ll provide helpful tips along the way!

Traditional Irish Soda Bread

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 with Cheese
Traditional Irish Soda Bread with Cheese

Ingredients

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
  • Buttermilk
  • Baking soda
  • Salt

Substitutions

  • Substitute cake and pastry flour with all-purpose flour.
  • If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make your own by adding 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (or white vinegar) to a measuring cup, and then filling it with whole milk to the 1-cup mark. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes before using it in the recipe.
  • If you don’t have a cast-iron skillet, you can use a Dutch oven, baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a greased baking pan to bake the bread.

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.

  • Raisin or currants
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Mixed herbs; rosemary, chive, etc.
  • Sweet bread; chocolate chips
  • Bacon
  • Walnut
  • Cranberry
Traditional Irish Soda Bread
Traditional Irish Soda Bread

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 (the leavening agent) 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.

Traditional Irish Soda Bread
Traditional Irish Soda Bread for St.Patrick’s Day

How To Make Traditional Irish Soda Bread

Step One: Make your batter by adding the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt to a large mixing bowl. Mix together. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour buttermilk into the middle. Using a wooden spoon incorporate the dry ingredients into the buttermilk until the 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.

Traditional Irish Soda Bread with Cheese
Traditional Irish Soda Bread with Cheese

Happy St. Patrick’s Day baking!

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Traditional Irish Soda Bread

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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.

  • Author: Alie Romano
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 35 mins
  • Total Time: 40 mins
  • Yield: 1 loaf 1x
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Irish

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 4 cups Cake and Pastry flour, sifted
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425˚F.
  2. In a large bowl add flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Mix together.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
  6. Enjoy warm.

Notes

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.

Enjoy with;
– butter & jam
– butter & honey
– beef or vegetable stew
– 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.

Nutrition

  • 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

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I can’t wait to see what you’ve made! xo alie

FAQ’s

What is the best way to store Irish soda bread?

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.

Can you add additional ingredients to Irish soda bread?

Yes, Irish soda bread can be made with a variety of flavours like;
– Raisins
– Cheddar cheese
– Mixed herbs; rosemary, chive, etc.
– Sweet bread; chocolate chips
– Bacon
– Walnuts
– Cranberries

What are the traditional ingredients used to make Irish soda bread?

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.

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iniziar
iniziar
6 years ago

Thank you!!! This is so cool!!

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Alie Romano

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Alie

I'm a professional baker, recipe developer & photographer behind Baking For Friends. I specialize in classic & comforting baking. I hope you enjoy the recipes & find inspiration of your own to bring your family & friends together over home-cooked food!

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