Traditional Irish Soda Bread Recipe With Buttermilk
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Traditional Irish Soda Bread is a delicious, easy 4-ingredient quick bread recipe with a moist, cakey crumb, a hint of tang, and encased by a thick golden crust. No four-leaf clover required! Soda bread is perfect for sopping up a hearty stew or soup.
We love a good quick bread recipe around here; from savory to sweet, these tasty bakery goodies are delicious any time. Try savory Dilly Cheese Bread or cheesy Hard Apple Cider Bread. You’ll love Peanut Butter Banana Bread, Pineapple-Banana Hummingbird Cake, or Easy Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread for a sweet treat.
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Table of Contents
Why Irish Soda Bread Is So Amazing
First, you can have soda bread dough ready for the oven by the time a pot of coffee is done brewing! Literally, four ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk make a hearty golden loaf.
- No Proofing: mix and shape
- Minimal kneading: combine and bake
- Inexpensive: only 4 ingredients
- Unique Texture: dense, cakey crumb
- Traditional: firm golden brown crust
Ingredients For Irish Soda Bread
I highly recommend weighing the ingredients for consistent results, especially for soda bread recipes. Trust me when I tell you a kitchen scale is your friend! 🙂 The standard measures and weights are on the Irish soda bread Recipe Card below.
For specific amounts, please refer to the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.
- All-Purpose Flour – fluff, spoon, and level flour with the back of a knife. It is important not to compact the flour by scooping it out with a measuring cup. For the best results, weigh out 438 grams.
- Kosher Salt – coarse-grained salt (has more flavor than table salt) 4.5 grams
- Baking Soda – must be fresh and highly reactive.* See baker’s note on how to test baking soda for freshness.
- Buttermilk – or soured milk. The acid activates the baking soda and creates air bubbles, so the soda bread will rise when baking. 337 grams
*Baker’s Note: Test your baking soda by placing a few tablespoons of vinegar in a small dish and stirring in a teaspoon of baking soda. The mixture should immediately begin to fizz if the baking soda is still active; if there’s little to no reaction, it’s time to replace it.
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How To Make Traditional Irish Soda Bread Recipe With Buttermilk
Making Irish soda bread is quicker and easier than most people expect, and it’s soooo yummy! A good rule of thumb for any new recipe, and more so with any bread recipe, is to read it through first. You’ll notice you refine your technique each time you make hearty traditional soda bread with buttermilk in all its tangy glory.
When you are baking, you’ll want to use the full recipe at the bottom of the page.
- Whisk the three dry ingredients together and make a well in the center. Pour the buttermilk into the well and gently combine the soda bread ingredients until a tacky dough forms.
- Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface, kneading it gently about 4 times.
- Pat the soda bread dough into a round disk. Lightly sprinkle with flour, score with a large X on the top, and puncture a slit in every quarter.
- Bake Irish soda bread in preheated oven for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down 50° F and continue baking for another 25 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Turn the soda bread over and bake for 5 more minutes until tapping the bottom of the loaf makes a hollow sound.
- Serve warm with Irish butter or homemade freezer jam, and enjoy!
Irish Soda Bread Recipe Notes and Tips
- Be sure to read the full recipe before starting.
- Using a kitchen scale to weigh the ingredients will ensure consistency and yield the best results. Too much flour is one of the reasons soda bread can become dry and crumbly.
- When combining the soda bread ingredients, gently stir them in a circular motion with a clawed hand, working from the center outward until a tacky dough forms.
- If your dough is really dry, add a little buttermilk until you can gather it into a big, tacky ball; however, avoid over handling it. Keep track of your steps because I know you will want to make this crazy good homemade Irish soda bread recipe over and over.
- Scoring the dough is not only an Irish tradition; it’s necessary. You may think making a cross on the bread to release the “faires” isn’t required, so to each his own. However, scoring the soda bread helps the dough to cook all the way through without overcooking the crust.
- Since we aren’t baking Irish soda bread in the traditional three-legged pot over a peat fire, the key to a nicely risen, delicious loaf is initially baking at 450°F, then finishing at a lower temperature.
- Like any bread recipe, you’ll want to avoid opening the oven door when lowering the temperature from 450°F to 400°F.
- If you want to share your soda bread with gran and want a softer crust, wrap the hot bread with a clean tea towel while it cools.
Featured Product Kitchen Scale
I love my kitchen scale! Using a kitchen scale to weigh ingredients will ensure consistency and yield the best results. Especially when baking.
How To Store Irish Soda Bread
Well-wrapped soda bread can last 2-3 days on the counter. No need to refrigerate.
Soda bread freezes well for a couple of months if wrapped properly. Start with plastic wrap, covered in foil, then in an airtight container or plastic freezer bag.
Thaw – If you slice your soda bread loaf before freezing, you can remove just what you need. Either way, thaw in the fridge overnight or on the counter.
If the crust hardens on the counter or in the fridge, sprinkle/rub water on it, wrap it in foil, and warm through. Another option is to heat the bread until hot on a baking sheet, turn off the heat and cover it with a clean, damp kitchen towel. The steam will soften the crust right up!
Irish Soda Bread With Buttermilk FAQs
Soda bread is a simple “quick bread,” so named because it doesn’t require yeast as leavening. Without yeast leavening, yeast reacting with the sugars to “bloom,” you don’t have to wait for the dough to rise. In a soda bread recipe, the baking soda and the buttermilk react immediately, aka “quick” bread.
Mix whole milk with lemon juice or vinegar to sour milk, creating a buttermilk substitute for a baking recipe. Measure 1 tbsp of either acid into a cup, then add milk to the cup line; this works out to ¼ cup acid minus a tsp and ¾ cup milk plus 1 tsp. Let the sour milk mixture sit for at least 10 minutes. (Bonus! This allows the milk to warm to room temperature.)
What is soda bread traditionally served with?
I don’t know if anyone can start off without a warm slice of traditional Irish soda bread slathered with salted butter. After that most enjoyable treat, here are a few other ways to enjoy soda bread.
- Brighten your toasted soda bread with Orange Honey Butter.
- For a sassy sweet treat, try Cinnamon Honey Butter or any spread.
- Savory slow cooker Mississippi Pot Roast.
- Zesty Roasted Red Pepper Fettucini with snappy smoked sausage.
- It’s hard to find a soup or chili recipe that won’t be friends with soda bread!
Irish Soda Bread Add-Ins
When you feel like fancying up your traditional Irish soda bread, you can easily go sweet, savory, or both with a couple of add-ins. If you’d like to “crust” your loaf with a seasoning, spread some buttermilk over the top and sprinkle with a spice or herb of your choice, maybe a touch of kosher salt. That sounds so good right now!
- Currents, Raisins, or Sultanas
- Caraway Seeds
- Garlic & Rosemary
- Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
What Is A Traditional Irish Soda Bread?
As the name implies, Irish soda bread is a quick bread recipe that pivots around baking soda, the leavening agent. The “Irish” in the recipe title is due to the people’s dependence during one of the most well-known famines in Ireland that decimated a large portion of their population.
Soda bread became an inexpensive and lifesaving stop-gap for the destitute Irish during the potato famine of 1845-1852. A traditional soda bread recipe uses only four ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda (alkaline), and sour milk (acidic). The chemical reaction between alkali and acid creates carbon dioxide (CO2) bubbles.
As the potato famine wore on, food and money were scarce, and yeast was no longer obtainable for both reasons. But bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) was a cheap alternative, and sour milk was readily available from the local dairy, an unintentional “re-purposing” of a waste product. You gotta love that! Coupling these two simple ingredients gives soda bread its unique taste, texture, and tummy-filling comfort.
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Traditional Irish Soda Bread is a delicious, easy 4-ingredient quick bread recipe with a moist, cakey crumb, a hint of tang, and encased by a thick golden crust. Perfect for sopping up a hearty stew or soup.
- 3½ cups all-purpose flour (438 grams)
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt (4.5 grams)
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda (3.7 grams)
- 1½ cups buttermilk (337 grams)
- Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Whisk the flour, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the buttermilk. Using a wooden spoon or clean hands, gently combine all of the ingredients starting at the center of the bowl and working your way out until a tacky dough forms.
- Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Gently knead the dough for just a few seconds (about 4 times) until it comes together. Do not overwork the dough or the bread will come out tough. Use your hands to pat it into a round disk about 1½ inches thick.
- Place the dough onto the prepared pan. Lightly sprinkle the top of the loaf with flour and using a sharp knife cut a deep large X on the top of the dough. Puncture a slit in each of the 4 quarters using the tip of your knife.
- Transfer to the oven and bake at 450°F for 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 400°F and continue baking for about 25 more minutes, until the top is golden brown.
- Flip the loaf over and bake another 5 minutes upside down at 400°F. The bottom of the bread should sound hollow when tapped.
- Serve warm with Irish butter or homemade jam.
Well-wrapped soda bread can last 2-3 days on the counter.
Freeze - Soda bread freezes well for a couple of months if wrapped properly. I’m not a fan of freezer burn, so if I were to freeze, I’d start with plastic wrap, covered in foil, then in an airtight container or plastic freezer bag.
- Be sure to read the full recipe before starting.
- If you have a kitchen scale, weighing the ingredients will yield the best results.
- If your dough is really dry, add a little buttermilk at a time, until you can gather it into a big, tacky ball.
- Scoring the dough is necessary to help the loaf to rise evenly in the oven.
- The key to getting the loaf to rise nice and fluffy is to initially bake at 450°F, then finish baking at a lower temperature.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 145Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 216mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 5g
Nutrition information is estimated based on the ingredients and cooking instructions as described in each recipe and is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Please note that nutrition details may vary based on methods of preparation, origin, and freshness of ingredients used and are just estimates. We encourage, especially if these numbers are important to you, to calculate these on your own for most accurate results.
Hi there, I'm Cheryl!
As a wife, mom, and caffeine enthusiast, my journey has taken me from bustling mornings with my family to sharing delicious recipes, home care tips, and heartfelt decorating insights with wonderful readers like you. My love for baking, photography, and tidiness shines through every post I craft. Dive into my world and discover the art of homemaking, one tidy moment at a time. Read more...
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