There's nothing like a slice of this freshly baked Easy Irish Soda Bread slathered with sweet cream butter. Serve it alongside soup, stew, corned beef and cabbage or any entree to complete the meal.
Irish Soda Bread for St Patrick's Day
Soda bread is made most often in the days and weeks leading up to St Paddy's. It's so simple to put together that, it should never be reserved to just one holiday per year. It's notoriety has only grown since it became known world wide in the early 1800's. That's when the first generation of baking soda was introduced to the UK and used to turn inexpensive pantry staples into a meal. These days, soda bread is often filled with dried currants or raisins. That said, there are savory variations with soda bread being made just as is, or filled with cheese and herbs. It's ideal when you're serving one of those meals that you'd like to sop up the gravy or cooking broth. You can read more about the history of soda bread here on My Recipes.
Does Soda Bread Use Yeast?
That's the beauty of this kind of bread, it requires no proofing of yeast. Baking soda in the dough reacts with the acidity in the buttermilk, which would have been sour milk in the early days, to create its unique texture.
Helpful Tips for Making Soda Bread
- Egg isn't an ingredient that would have been found in classic soda bread but, I prefer it and recommend using egg in this recipe.
- If you don't have buttermilk, add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white distilled vinegar to whole milk using the same amount called for in the recipe. Let stand on the counter for 5 minutes, then proceed with the recipe.
- You can omit the raisins with no other adjustments made.
- Brush the exterior periodically with melted butter and buttermilk for the golden crust.
- If the butter solidifies in the basting liquid between brushing the bread, heat in the microwave to melt.
- Store this bread at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1-2 days. It's best eaten while fresh.
- Enjoy with a big bowl of beef stew, Shepherd's Pie , vegetable beef soup or classic corned beef and cabbage.
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Helpful Kitchen Items:
Easy Irish Soda Bread
- 4 ¼ cups all purpose flour or bread flour
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup cold salted butter cut into cubes
- 1 ¾ cup buttermilk divided
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup raisins optional
- 3 Tbsp salted butter melted
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Brush the bottom and sides of a large 10 or 12 inch cast iron skillet with oil.
- In a large bowl, use a whisk to sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
- Add butter, cutting into the flour using a pastry blender. Whisk together 1 ½ cup buttermilk and egg. Add to the bowl, with raisins mixing until fully moistened.
- Turn dough out onto a non stick lightly floured surface and knead lightly just until it comes together using floured hands. Form into roughly an 8 inch round and place into skillet. (You can also bake on a parchment lined baking pan.)
- In a small bowl, combine melted butter with reserved ¼ cup buttermilk. Brush loaf on all sides. Use a sharp knife to cut an 'X' into the center to vent.
- Bake for 40-50 minutes or until crusty on the outside and baked through. Check center of loaf with a toothpick to test for doneness. Continue to baste periodically with buttermilk and melted butter. (If butter cools and solidifies, heat in the microwave for a few seconds to melt)
- Cool in the skillet for 10 minutes then move to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.