Would it be St. Patrick’s day without Irish Soda Bread? Not in my house! Put on the kettle and enjoy a slice of this buttermilk-enriched, raisin-filled traditional Irish Soda Bread with a hot cup of tea.
Traditional Irish Soda Bread is so easy to make
Even if you’re a little reluctant to make your own bread, soda bread is so easy you should give it a try–and homemade soda bread is so much better than what you’ll find in a typical grocery store.
Why is soda bread so easy to make? Because it’s a “quick bread”. Quick breads are “quick” because they get their lift from a chemical leavener (in this case baking soda) instead of yeast. As soon as the bread is mixed it’s ready to bake.
With no yeast or fussy fermentation, no rolling or cutting, soda bread is even easier to make than muffins or biscuits.
Scroll through the step by step photos to see how to make Irish Soda Bread:
Tips for making this Traditional Irish Soda Bread Recipe
- This dough is so easy to make I don’t even use a mixer. Mixing by hand helps ensure that you won’t over work and toughen the dough and it comes together in mere minutes.
- You can make a substitute for buttermilk by adding a tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to a cup of whole milk. Let it thicken for 10 minutes before using.
- Another option for buttermilk is buttermilk powder, which will keep for months in the pantry. Buttermilk does have a special flavor so I think it’s worth getting the real thing, if possible.
- The dough can be a little sticky. If your hands get coated with the sticky dough don’t try to wash it off with water, it’ll just get stickier and leave a mess in the sink. Dip your hands into the flour bin to coat them. Holding your hands over the trash can, rub them together vigorously and the sticky dough will come off easily.
- Cutting a deep X in the top of the loaf before it goes in the oven ensures that it will rise evenly without splitting in random places.
- If the raisins on the surface of the dough burn in the oven, just pick them off (careful, they’re hot) when the bread comes out of the oven.
- The recipe can be divided into two smaller loaves instead of one large loaf. Adjust the baking time for smaller loaves.
- If raisins are your thing you can leave them out or replace them with dried cranberries, cherries or your favorite dried fruit.
- Soda Bread is best the day that it is baked. Leftovers can be frozen, then defrosting and reheated.
- One of my favorite ways to eat day-old soda bread is to generously butter a slice of bread then toast in on a griddle until it’s golden brown. Topped with a little jam, it’s heavenly.
All you need is a little creamery butter and maybe a dollop of Blood Orange Marmalade for the perfect teatime treat.
Personally, I don’t know why you’d only bake soda bread once a year. It’s so easy to make and so tasty it should be enjoyed year-round.
If you love this recipe please consider giving it five stars.
- 4 cups (1 lb 4 oz 570g) unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 2 tablespoons (1 oz, 28g) granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 tablespoons (1.5 oz, 45g) butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (6 oz,170g) raisins
- 2 cups (16 oz, 500ml) buttermilk, plus more for brushing
- Preheat the oven to 350°F convection or 375°F regular. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Sift or whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder and baking soda. Use your hands to work the butter into the dry ingredients until there are no pieces larger than the size of a pea. Toss the raisins with the dry ingredients.
- Add the buttermilk all at once and mix until the dry ingredients are almost incorporated. The dough may seem dry at this point but it will come together.
- Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead about 15-20 times to form a smooth ball. Place the loaf onto the prepared baking sheet. Use your hands to flatten the ball slightly. Use a sharp knife to cut a 1/2"-3/4" deep X into the top of the loaf. Brush the loaf with buttermilk.
- Bake until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom or the middle of the loaf is about 190°F, 45 minutes to an hour.
This recipe makes one large or two smaller loaves. If you split the dough into two smaller loaves adjust the baking time accordingly. The recipe can also be halved to make one smaller loaf.
The bread is best the day it's made, but will keep several days at room temperature. It will keep in the freezer for 1-2 months.