Irish Soda Bread {Simple and Easy}

Irish Soda Bread is a quick and easy bread recipe. Since it doesn’t require yeast, it is truly hard to screw up this recipe. Trust me, I have tried.

This is a quick and easy recipe that my family has used for years to make Irish Soda Bread. Additionally, I also have suggested simple ways that this recipe can be modified in order to add additional ingredients (such as nuts and dried fruits) and to adjust for dietary restrictions (ex. gluten free).

loaf of Irish soda bread with a slice removed

History of Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread is a traditional Irish food staple that has helped the Irish make it though some incredible different times of food scarcity.

During the Irish Potato Famine (1845 to approximately 1852), food was hard to find and other ingredients (such as yeast) were either impossible to get or incredibly expensive.

Irish Soda Bread rose to prominence during this famine because it is traditional only make with four ingredients (flour, an acid traditionally sour milk, in modern times buttermilk, salt, and baking soda). Since yeast couldn’t easily be obtained, the baking soda and buttermilk combined would chemically react together creating a leavening agent that still allowed the dough to rise without yeast.

Why is there a cross or “X” on the top of Irish Soda Bread?

Typically, slashing a cross on the top of bread helps the bread to stretch and expand as it rises. This is also known as “scoring” the bread.

However, the cross (or “X”) on top of Irish Soda bread also has a history based on superstition. According to Mary Gleeson, a master baker based in Ireland and co-owner of the Gleeson Restaurant and Bar based on Roscommon Ireland, “You have to cut a cross in the dough to let the fairies out.”

How Long Irish Soda Bread Last?

At room temperature, Irish Soda Bread should last about 2 days. Refrigerated, Irish Soda Bread should last about one week.

If you need to store your Irish Soda longer than a week, cut the bread into your desired slice size and then place the bread in an air-tight container in your freezer. Pre-slicing the bread will make reheat the bread a lot easier.

How to Make Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients

  • 2 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2 tbsp Packed Brown Sugar
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 cups Buttermilk
  • 1 large Egg
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Extra flour for rolling

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375°F
  • Prepare a baking sheet by spraying it with non-stick cooking spray
  • In a large-sized bowl, place and combine the dry ingredients (flours, baking powders, sugar, baking soda, and salt).
  • In the medium-sized bowl, mix together the wet ingredients (buttermilk, egg, and olive oil).
  • Pour the the wet ingredients mixture into the large bowl that contains the dry ingredients.
  • Using your hands, mix and combine the wet and dry ingredients until you have a ball of dough that is soft.
  • On a surfaced sprinkled with the extra flour, kneed the dough about 10 times, forming it into a ball. (Tip: Try not to over work the dough)
  • Place the dough on the baking sheet and use a knife to a score an “X” across the top of the dough.
  • Bake for about 45 to 50 mins or until the loaf is golden brown

Easy Modifications to Irish Soda Bread

Raisin Irish Soda Bread (or any Dried Fruit!)

Adding raisin to this recipe is super easy. Just add up to 2 cups of raisins to the dry ingredients in the large mixing bowl. Then continue the recipe as directed.

Please note, if the fruit is on the large size,  chop it down so that it is about the size of a typical raisin. 

Raisin Caraway Soda Bread

Add 2 cups of raisins and 2 cups of caraway seeds to the dry ingredients mentioned in Step #3.

If you don’t have caraway seeds, feel free to substitute in fennel seeds or anise seeds (keep in mind that if this substitution is made, the flavor with change slightly).

Oatmeal-Walnut Soda Bread

Before making the bread, soak 2 cups of old-fashion oats in the buttermilk for about an hour.

To the dry ingredients, add 1 cup of toasted walnuts to the large mixing bowl.

Then follow the recipe as instructed.

Gluten-free Irish Soda Bread

To make the below recipe gluten-free, substitute the all flour (the all-purpose and the whole wheat flour) out for your favorite gluten-free flour.

(Please note, if your chosen gluten free flour does NOT have Xanthan gum, you will need to add a 1 tsp. of xanthan gum to your flour).

What is Xanthan gum? According to Bob’s Red Mill, Xanthan gum is a food additive that acts as an emulsifier and a binder — adding volume to gluten free breads, cookies, cakes, and other baked goods.

loaf of Irish soda bread with a slice removed
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Irish Soda Bread

A simple Irish Soda Bread recipe that can be easily modified to make it gluten free or to include your favorite nuts and dried fruit.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time50 mins
Total Time1 hr 10 mins
Course: Bread, Side Dish
Cuisine: Irish
Keyword: irish soda bread
Servings: 1 loaf
Calories: 163kcal

Equipment

  • 1 Large Bowl
  • 1 Medium Bowl
  • 1 Baking Sheet
  • 1 Knife

Ingredients

  • 2 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2 tbsp Packed Brown Sugar
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 cups Buttermilk
  • 1 large Egg
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Extra flour for rolling

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375°F
  • Prepare a baking sheet by spraying it with non-stick cooking spray
  • In a large-sized bowl, place and combine the dry ingredients (flours, baking powders, sugar, baking soda, and salt).
  • In the medium-sized bowl, mix together the wet ingredients (buttermilk, egg, and olive oil).
  • Pour the the wet ingredients mixture into the large bowl that contains the dry ingredients.
  • Using your hands, mix and combine the wet and dry ingredients until you have a ball of dough that is soft.
  • On a surfaced sprinkled with the extra flour, kneed the dough about 10 times, forming it into a ball. (Tip: Try not to over work the dough)
  • Place the dough on the baking sheet and use a knife to a score an "X" across the top of the dough.
  • Bake for about 45 to 50 mins or until the loaf is golden brown

Notes

Feel free to add in nuts or raisins (or your favorite dried fruit). However, if the fruit is on the large size,  chop it down so that it is about the size of a typical raisin. 

Nutrition

Serving: 15slices | Calories: 163kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.001g | Cholesterol: 16mg | Sodium: 324mg | Potassium: 126mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 72IU | Calcium: 79mg | Iron: 1mg
IRISH Soda Bread - Pinterest Image

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Until next time: Stay salty, and sweet 😉

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