I love soda bread year round but this time of year it seems to pop up everywhere. It’s a surprisingly versatile bread and super easy to make. It’s great for breakfast, an afternoon snack with some jam or an accompaniment to a hearty, warming soup. I’ve had this recipe for ages and I have no idea where I got it. It’s scribbled on a piece of paper and covered with stains from all the use it’s gotten over the years.
The humble soda bread which began as a necessity can still be found in most Irish homes. In the mid 1800s a widespread famine meant bread had to be made out of the most basic and cheapest ingredients available. Thankfully, baking soda was introduced to Ireland during that centery and is one of its four ingredients. Many families also lived in somewhat isolated farm areas which often times meant no oven in their home. Soda bread was able to help with this problem too. The bread could be cooked in iron pots or baked on griddles over open hearths. This gave the bread its famous hard crust and dense texture.
I have always cut a cross into my soda bread, it’s just something I’d always saw done. I’ve recently learned that the way you prepare your soda bread is steeped in tradition. Southern Irish regions, which is where my people are from, shape their breads into rounds and cut a cross on the top to…are you ready for it? To let the fairies out or ward off any evil to protect your home. My family is SO superstitious, of course they would want to ward off evil and make sure no trickster fairies were about. HAHAHAHA! The Northern regions of Ireland aren’t giving into this foolishness and just divide their dough into four triangular shapes. I bet their homes are teaming with fairies.
Ok, enough with my fun facts. Below you will find my favorite soda bread recipe and one for some delicious scones. Both will make great additions to your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. I don’t know the backstory on scones but there’s a pretty hilarious episode of Derry Girls involving this tasty biscuit.
Traditional Irish Soda Bread
- 580g all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 470ml cold buttermilk
- Preheat oven to 425F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. You can also use an 8″ cake pan or oven proof skillet.
- In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
- Slowly stir in the buttermilk just until combined and it starts to become too stiff to stir.
- Transfer to a well floured surface and with floured hands lightly knead the dough 5-10 times or until all the flour is moistened and the dough comes together.
- Form dough into an 8″ round.
- Place on prepared pan and with a very sharp knife cut a 1/4″ deep X on the top.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
It’s delicious slathered with butter!
- 600 g flour
- 110 g sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 190 g butter, cold & cut into cubes
- 2 eggs
- 250 ml buttermilk
- 100 g raisins, dried cranberries, dried blueberries (you pick)
- optional- milk for glazing
- Preheat oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment
- In a large bowl whisk together flour, sugar and baking powder.
- Add in the butter and work with your fingers to combine. It should look like small peas.
- Mix in dry fruit.
- In a small bowl mix buttermilk and eggs. Slowly add to your dry mixture.
- Using your hands form the dough into a large ball, place on a well floured surface.
- Knead lightly, it shouldn’t take long for it to come together.
- Roll out into 1 1/2 inch thickness
- Use a biscuit cutter or a well floured pint glass to cut into 3 inch rounds.
- Place on your prepared baking sheet and lightly brush with milk.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes , they should be lightly golden.
Serve with your favorite jam, butter, clotted cream or just eat them as is.
I hope you enjoy these Irish baked goods as much as I do. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day and Happy Baking!