This traditional Irish soda bread is easy to make and requires just a few simple ingredients. Made without yeast, this quick bread recipe yields one small loaf. With a perfectly tender crumb and a wonderful golden crust, this soda bread pairs well with soups, chilis, stews, or alone with butter.
There are many versions of Irish soda bread and everyone seems to have their favorite.
Some folks say it's not authentic if the bread doesn't have currents or caraway seeds. Others say it shouldn't be sweet, while others want it sweeter. Any way you slice it, Irish soda bread has fans in all corners and today I'm sharing with you a scaled down version of my family's Irish soda bread recipe.
Why This Recipe Works
Irish soda bread is a quick bread that does not require any yeast. The essential ingredients in a traditional Irish soda bread recipe are flour, buttermilk, baking soda, and salt.
The baking soda is used as a leavening agent instead of yeast and the acid in the buttermilk reacts with the base of the baking soda to help the bread rise.
Traditionally, before baking a cross would be cut on the top of the bread. This cross was said to symbolize a blessing of the bread and to protect the household. In reality, scoring the dough helps the heat reach the center of the loaf as it bakes.
Although soda bread is not a sweet bread, I've chosen to add a small amount of sugar to my recipe. You will find that the amount of sugar I add does not sweeten the bread too much, it just gives it a hint of sweetness.
See recipe box below for ingredient amounts and complete recipe instructions.
- Flour: Use all-purpose flour
- Sugar: A very small amount of sugar is used for a hint of sweetness.
- Salt: For flavor
- Baking soda: This helps the soda bread to rise.
- Butter: Use cold salted butter.
- Raisins: You can use currants or caraway seeds or leave them out altogether.
- Egg yolk: Use 1 egg yolk and be sure to see ways to use the leftover egg white below.
- Buttermilk: This ingredient reacts to the baking soda which helps the bread to rise. If you don’t have buttermilk, the closest substitute would be a little dairy with a touch of acidity added. To make ½ cup of buttermilk, measure ½ cup milk (112 milliliters) and add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar. Let sit for 10 minutes at room temperature before using.
How To Make This Recipe
Step 1: Mix together flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda.
Step 2: Work the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs; then add raisins.
Step 3: In a small bowl, whisk together an egg yolk and buttermilk; then pour into the dry mixture and stir to combine.
Step 4: Very lightly knead the dough and form a small circle with the dough.
Step 5: Using a sharp knife, score a large "X" about ½-inch deep across the dough.
Step 6: Bake the soda bread for 40 minutes.
- Don't overwork the dough. The dough is not supposed to look smooth.
- Score the top of the dough with an "X" or a cross shape. This helps the center to bake through.
- If you're baking this Irish soda bread for St. Patrick's Day, you'll love our Irish Stew and our Guinness Float!
Frequently Asked Questions
Leftover soda bread can be cooled completely, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.
It freezes well, up to 3 months. Just thaw and reheat.
There are many ways to eat Irish soda bread but the most popular way is with butter. Adding jam or jelly makes this bread a great choice for breakfast.
Irish Soda Bread can also be served with soups or stews. You might like to consider serving it with any of these single serving soup and stew recipes:
Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup
French Onion Soup
When sliced, it also makes a great sandwich bread.
This soda bread recipe will yield 1 small loaf and is about a quarter of the size of a standard soda bread loaf.
What To Do With Leftover Ingredients?
If you have any leftover ingredients from this recipe, consider these ideas:
Buttermilk freezes well. My preferred method is to freeze the buttermilk in 1 tablespoon portions in an ice cube tray. Once frozen, the cubes can be stored in a zip-topped freezer bag. Since they are already measured, just pull out the amount you need, thaw and use.
You might like to use the raisins in any of these small batch recipes:
Since this recipe calls for using an egg yolk. Store the egg white in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It should be used within 3 days. You might like to use the leftover egg white in any of these small batch recipes:
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- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon salted butter , cold
- ¼ cup raisins
- 1 large egg yolk
- ½ cup buttermilk
- Heat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
- Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
- Cut the butter into small pieces and work the butter into the flour using your fingers or a fork until it resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the raisins.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and buttermilk. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix with a spoon until just combined.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead very lightly and form a 4-inch circle. (Add a little more flour to the dough if the dough becomes too sticky to handle). Do not over-knead!
- Using a serrated knife, score top of dough about an inch and half deep in an "X" shape.
- Place dough on a baking sheet and bake until bread is golden, about 35-40 minutes.HINT: If the top of the bread is getting too dark while baking, place a sheet of aluminum foil over the top.
- Serve bread warm or at room temperature.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.