Enjoy this easy recipe for traditional Irish Soda Bread. This quick bread requires no kneading and tastes great on St. Patrick’s Day or any day of the year. This bread gets its flavor from the tangy buttermilk and melted butter. And it rises from the baking powder instead of yeast.
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Why you’ll love this recipe
- A great quick bread for beginners
- It uses simple ingredients and makes a large loaf
- Tender and soft inside with a golden brown crust
- Juicy raisins add sweetness and color
- Enjoy it for brunch my favorite way — slathered with butter!
Ingredients & substitutions
- All purpose white flour: I like the texture of white flour better than whole wheat flour
- Granulated white sugar
- Baking soda and baking powder: Since there’s no yeast, these leavening agents are needed for the bread rise. They are not interchangeable, so you’ll need both
- Salt: I recommend kosher salt
- Butter: Cut the butter into cubes and let it warm to room temperature for 30-60 minutes before baking with it. If your butter is still too cold, place it in the microwave on a microwave-safe dish for 8-10 seconds. You should be able to press down on it and easily leave a dent
- Raisins: They add a slight sweetness to the tender bread. If you aren’t a fan of regular raisins, substitute golden raisins or dried cranberries
- Caraway seeds: These seeds have a nutty, mild licorice flavor and are optional
- Large eggs: Remove the eggs from the fridge and allow them to come to room temperature for at least 30 minutes before using. This helps them blend better with the other ingredients
- Buttermilk: Use fresh if you have it. Otherwise, see below for substitutions
Irish soda bread without buttermilk
If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, it’s simple to make this easy Irish soda bread recipe with a substitution. One way is to use milk mixed with an acid.
For each cup of buttermilk, measure out one tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice. Then add enough milk to equal one cup. Stir it together and let the mixture sit for about five minutes. When it looks curdled, it’s good to go.
Plain yogurt and sour cream are also good buttermilk substitutes. For each cup of buttermilk, mix ¼ cup of water with ¾ cup of sour cream or yogurt.
How to make the best Irish soda bread
Preheat the oven to 350ºF and grease a round baking dish or cast iron skillet with butter. You can also line the pan with parchment paper for even easier removal of the bread.
Work the small pieces of butter into the flour mixture with your hands, a fork or a pastry cutter. Stir in the raisins and caraway seeds.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the buttermilk and stir well. Pour the liquid mixture into the center of the flour mixture a bit at a time. Stir between each addition, but don’t overmix.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a rough round shape. Place in a greased pan. Dust the top lightly with flour.
Using the wrong end of a fork (aka, the end you hold) cut a deep cross into the top of the dough.
Bake the bread for 50-60 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Remove the bread from the pan and let it cool on a wire rack. Slice with a sharp knife and serve with butter or jam.
How to store Irish soda bread
First, make sure the bread is completely cooled. Then wrap the full loaf or individual slices in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Place the wrapped pieces in a plastic bag or storage container for 3-4 days.
- Don't be afraid to get in there with your hands on this one. Wash them thoroughly, of course, then use them to mix the dry ingredients. This will create a fluffy mixture, helping to maintain a lightness to the finished bread.
- Use your hands also to work in the butter. Be sure your butter is softened, but not melted. I like to leave the butter out on the counter overnight if I know I'm baking the next day.
- Make sure the ingredients are incorporated but don’t overwork the dough. It will look a little rough and shaggy.
- Once the dough has come together, dust your work surface with flour and dump the bread onto it. Flour the tops and sides as well so that you can more easily form the dough into a ball shape without it sticking to your hands. I like to leave a small pile of flour on the side of my work surface and grab a little as I need it.
Can you freeze Irish Soda Bread?
Yes! To freeze, slice the bread and place it in a single layer on a baking tray. Then place in the freezer for at least 1 hour. Put the frozen slices in a freezer-safe plastic bag for up to 3 months.
How to reheat Irish Soda Bread?
To reheat frozen bread, leave it wrapped while it comes to room temperature. Or place in the microwave on 50% for one minute. Toast and serve.
How long does Irish Soda Bread last?
Since this bread can dry out quickly, it’s best eaten the same day. If stored in an airtight container it will stay fresh for 3-4 days. To keep it longer, store it in the freezer.
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- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup Kerrygold butter cubed and softened
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds optional
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1 ½ cups buttermilk
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF (177ºC). Grease a 9-inch round pan or cast-iron skillet with butter and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, add flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Toss mixture with hands - this makes it light and airy.4 cups all-purpose flour, ½ cup granulated sugar, ¼ teaspoon baking soda, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Add softened butter to the flour mixture, still using hands, and blend until evenly distributed. Mixture will resemble coarse sand with some large clumps.½ cup Kerrygold butter
- Add raisins and caraway seeds, if using, and toss with hands.1 cup raisins, 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, beat the eggs with a fork.2 large eggs
- Add the buttermilk to the eggs and blend well.1 ½ cups buttermilk
- Pour the egg/buttermilk mixture into the dry flour mixture a little at a time. Blend well with a just until no dry spots remain. Do not over mix.
- At this point, the dough should be heavy but not soupy or overly wet. If it is, add a little flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. If it’s too dry, add a little buttermilk, 1 tablespoon at a time until dough comes together.
- Dump dough onto a clean, floured work surface such as a countertop or large cutting board.
- Dust your hands with flour and mold the dough into a round - doesn’t have to be perfect.
- Place dough into prepared pan and dust top lightly with flour.
- Using the wrong end of a fork, cut a deep cross into the top of the dough. This will prevent the bread from cracking while it bakes and gives it the traditional Irish Soda Bread look.
- Bake for 50 - 60 minutes or until golden brown. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool. Slice and serve warm with butter or marmalade.
- Bread can be made in a 9-inch round baking pan or a cast-iron skillet
- Store bread loosely covered with plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 4 days
- To freeze, slice bread, place in a single layer on a baking tray and place in freezer for at least 1 hour. Place frozen slices in a freezer-safe ziplock bag for up to 3 months. To defrost, leave at room temperature for 30 minutes or place in the microwave on 50% for 1 minute. Toast and serve