A perfect bread for beginner bakers! Ready in about 1 hour, Irish soda bread is made without yeast for an easier, quicker and more fail-proof homemade loaf.
Why is it called Irish soda bread?
I used to think they called it soda bread because they literally put soda/pop in the bread. Even after finding out there wasn't any fizzy drink involved in the making of this bread, it didn't dawn on me that the "soda" referred to the baking soda in the recipe until I finally Googled it...
Sooo basically the baking soda is what helps this bread rise. No need for conventional yeast. Meaning there's a lot less that can go wrong with this bread (yeast is fussy!) - which is why I think it makes a heck of a good bread recipe for beginners!
Irish-American soda bread vs. traditional Irish soda bread:
This recipe for Irish soda bread is a take on the "Americanized" version. Traditional Irish soda bread is usually a lot more simple, featuring only flour, baking soda, salt, and milk. This is my favorite traditional recipe!
Irish-Americans have a bit more going on with the recipe: still featuring the classic ingredients flour/baking soda/salt/milk, but the American version also includes sugar, butter, raisins and eggs. The American version also tends to be on the sweeter side of things. It's a lot like yeast-free hot cross buns!
American Irish soda bread ingredients:
• flour: for the bread, and for shaping. The bread dough is quite sticky, but I've found that yields the most tender loaf!
• baking soda: helps give the loaf its rise without the need for yeast
• sugar: not an ingredient you'll see in a traditional Irish soda bread, but very characteristic of an Irish-American loaf! I love the added sweetness it brings
• raisins: one of the most popular add-ins for an American Irish soda bread. A lot of recipes also add cardamom, so if you like it, you can toss it in as well! I don't cook or bake with cardamom often, so I never really have it on hand
• buttermilk: regular milk works fine here as well, but the acidity in buttermilk creates a better rise in the loaf. Here's how to make a buttermilk substitute at home
How to make Irish soda bread:
1. Whisk together dry ingredients.
2. Cut butter into dry mix. Work the butter in until the butter pieces are no larger than the size of a pea.
3. Toss in raisins. Mix to evenly distribute, and set aside.
4. Whisk together wet ingredients.
5. Combine wet and dry ingredients. Fold together until a thick, sticky dough forms.
6. Lightly knead the dough. Turn onto a well floured work surface and give the dough a few quick kneads. Take care not to overwork it or the loaf may end up tough. You just need to give it about 4 or 5 kneads.
7. Shape into loaf.
8. Transfer onto baking pan and score the top. Cut a shallow cross on the top of the loaf (to help the center bake through). This is easiest to do with a serrated knife or a lame. A super sharp knife does the trick as well.
9. Bake. If the loaf is browning too quickly, loosely tent with aluminum foil to finish cooking it. You can test the doneness by inserting a skewer into the thickest part of the loaf, and it should come out clean. The top should also be a deep golden brown color.
10. Cool slightly before slicing and serving! Cool the loaf for about 10 to 15 minutes in your pan, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling enough to handle. I prefer this bread when it's still warm or toasted, but you can also serve it at room temperature.
Irish soda bread storage:
Irish soda bread, while insanely tasty, does not keep very well at room temperature. It's best served the same day it's made, or at most within 2 days.
You can however freeze your loaf for up to 2 months! Wrap the whole loaf tightly in a layer of plastic wrap, followed by a layer of aluminum foil and freeze.
Before serving, defrost at room temperature for a few hours. Or you can transfer the loaf onto a baking sheet and loosely tent the top with aluminum foil (to prevent browning), then warm in a preheated 350°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until defrosted.
Check out these other recipes!
American Irish Soda Bread Recipe
- 4 & ½ cups (540g) all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping the bread
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (1 stick / 115g) cold unsalted butter, cubed (plus more to grease the pan)
- 1 cup (180g) currants or raisins
- 1 large egg
- 1 & ¾ cups (420mL) buttermilk
- Preheat your oven to 400°F. Butter and lightly flour a large baking sheet or cast iron skillet, and set aside.
- In a large bowl, add in flour, baking soda, sugar, and salt. Whisk to combine.
- Add your butter to the dry mix, and cut it in until the butter pieces are no larger than the size of a pea. Add your raisins or currants, and toss to combine. Set aside.
- In a separate medium bowl, add in your egg and buttermilk. Whisk to combine.
- Pour your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients. Fold together until you just get a thick, sticky dough. Turn the dough onto a well floured work surface, and give it a few quick kneads, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking, until smooth. The dough should be tacky, but not to the point where it sticks to your hands. Take care not to over work the dough or the loaf may end up tough!
- Shape the dough into a round loaf, and transfer onto your prepared baking sheet or cast iron skillet. Using a serrated knife, bread lame, or a very sharp knife, score a shallow cross on the top of the loaf. Not only is this traditional, but it also helps the inside bake through!
- Bake the soda bread in the center of your preheated 400°F oven for 45 to 60 minutes, or until it turns a deep golden brown color and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. If the loaf is browning too quickly, loosely tent the top with aluminum foil and continue baking until cooked through. I almost always need to tent my loaf after about 20 to 25 minutes, so do keep an eye out.
- Cool the bread for about 15 minutes in your pan, then transfer onto a wire rack to cool enough to handle. Serve warm, at room temperature, or toasted!