A cast iron skillet with freshly baked Irish soda bread.

I was all set to complicate Irish soda bread by making a yeasted version when I started looking into its history and discovered that the soda — the baking soda — is perhaps the most traditional part of the bread, much more so than butter, sugar, eggs and raisins, in fact, which likely entered the equation when the bread crossed the pond.

Inspired by that article, I made a traditional loaf of soda bread with flour, salt, buttermilk and baking soda, and while it was perfectly edible, I found myself missing the richness of eggs and sugar, the scone-like texture created by the addition of butter…what can I say, I’m American!

Here, I’ve added a bit of the riches back in: one egg, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and a couple tablespoons of melted butter, which produces a loaf that still resembles a giant biscuit, but less so.

There are two recipes below, one that calls for 100% all-purpose flour — the horror! — and one that calls for a mix of whole wheat, all-purpose, and wheat germ, which produces a slightly denser but no less delicious, chewy, tangy loaf. Each dough takes about 5 minutes to mix-up and each will be ready to be slathered with butter and marmalade about an hour later.

Irish Soda Bread in 3 Simple Steps

  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients.
    A bowl with dry ingredients for Irish soda bread plus a whisk.
  2. Add the wet ingredients: a mix of buttermilk, melted butter, and egg.
    A bowl of mixed Irish soda bread dough.
  3. Form into a ball using floured hands, transfer to a cast iron skillet, and score.
    A cast iron skillet of shaped Irish soda bread, scored.
  4. Bake until golden.
    Just-baked Irish soda bread in a cast iron skillet.
    Just baked Irish soda bread in a cast iron skillet, sideview.
  5. When cool enough to handle, slice it up.
    Overhead shot of a loaf of Irish soda bread, sliced.
  6. Slather with butter or orange marmalade.
    A plate of Irish soda bread slathered with orange marmalade.
A quart of Argyle cheese farmer buttermilk.

Love this Argyle Cheese Farmer buttermilk:

A cast iron skillet of just-baked whole wheat Irish soda bread.

This is the soda bread when made with a mix of all-purpose and whole wheat flour as well as wheat germ:

A crumb shot of whole wheat Irish soda bread.

Whole grain soda bread, sliced:

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A cast iron skillet of just-baked Irish soda bread.

Super Simple Irish Soda Bread


  • Author: Alexandra Stafford
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 1 loaf

Description

This recipe is inspired by this one from Simply Recipes. I add more salt — I find 2 teaspoons of salt for every 4 cups of flour to be about right. And instead of working 4 tablespoons of butter into the dough as you would for biscuits or scones, I use 2 tablespoons of melted butter. This Irish soda bread still resembles a biscuit but has less of that biscuity/scone feel. If you want to use whole grain flour in your soda bread, use these ingredients, which are inspired by an America’s Test Kitchen recipe, in place of the 4 cups all-purpose flour:

  • 2 cups (256 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups (192 g) whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup (55 g) wheat germ

Ingredients

  • 4 cups (510 g) all-purpose flour, see notes above for making it whole grain
  • 2 teaspoons (10 g) kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1¾ cups buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • room temperature butter for greasing
  • flour for dusting

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat the egg and buttermilk. Add the melted butter and stir to combine. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until combined. Mixture will be sticky. Grease a 9- or 10-inch cast iron skillet (or other similarly sized vessel) with softened butter. Set aside.
  3. Lightly flour your hands and sprinkle a little flour over the sticky dough ball. Use your hands to scrape the dough from the sides of the bowl and to quickly shape the mass into a ball, kneading lightly if necessary. Transfer to prepared skillet. Sprinkle with a teensy bit more flour. Use a sharp knife to make an X across the top of the dough ball. Place in oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until lightly golden and bottom sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from oven, transfer to cooling rack, and let cool for 15 minutes before slicing.
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: Irish

Keywords: soda bread, St. Patrick’s Day, Irish, buttermilk