Our Irish soda bread has a tender texture with a crispy crust and is just in time for St. Patrick's Day.
In March 2020, in the Northeast Teaching Kitchen we held our last group cooking class right before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down. We featured Irish recipes and made soda bread along with a hearty sausage and potato stew. We even got to sample some Irish cheeses.
All I remember is the spicy, caraway-scented aroma from the soda bread wafting through the air, attracting hungry library customers. To say that I miss the group cooking classes is a serious understatement, but we know we will get back to it when it is safe.
Our Irish soda bread recipe has a tender crumb and crispy exterior. It is the perfect accompaniment to a hearty stew and is best served warm. It’s also fantastic served plain with a little butter and jam too.
What is Irish soda bread?
Irish soda bread is a quick leavened bread that is made using buttermilk and baking soda. The acidity in the buttermilk interacts with the baking soda to produce carbon dioxide and causes the bread to rise. It is normally made with currants and caraway seeds, but you can omit these ingredients. You can use any raisins if you can't find currants.
What if I can’t find buttermilk?
Then so sorry pal. Without buttermilk this recipe will not work. If you don’t have buttermilk just add 1 T of vinegar or lemon juice to 1 1/2 cups of milk and let sit for a few minutes before using.
2 ½ cups white flour
1 cup wheat or rye flour
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 T sugar
1 tsp caraway seeds (optional)
1 ¼ cup buttermilk
½ cup currants or raisins (optional)
How do you make soda bread?
In a bowl, mix all dry ingredients except raisins together. Add raisins and mix well.
Make a well in the center of the ingredients in the bowl and add half the buttermilk. Stir with a wooden spoon to mix.
Add the remaining buttermilk and continue stirring until it forms a rough, shaggy dough.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured countertop and knead very gently. I only kneaded the dough about 10 times. Don’t overmix, otherwise the bread will be tough.
Shape the dough into a disc and transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet or a greased cast iron skillet. Cut a cross on the top of the dough with a sharp knife. It is said that this was done to ward off evil. It’s also practical because it helps the bread bake and rise more evenly.
This step is optional, but I like to sprinkle some flour onto the bread just before baking to give it a more rustic, artisan look.
Bake at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes, or until internal temperature registers 190 degrees. You can also tap on the bottom of the bread. If it sounds hollow it is likely done.