March 17, 2012

Irish Soda Bread

Happy St Pattys from a half-Irish!  When I perused my local grocery and only saw already seasoned brisket for corned beef (the nerve!) I knew I wanted to tackle something authentically Irish for this, the holiday of green beer.  None of which I get to consume during the Saturday bar crawls due to aforementioned midterms, but that's neither here nor there.  I called my mother because I figured she would have some old recipe for soda bread lurking in the cook book cabinet - no such luck!  "I don't like soda bread, is that terrible?"

No, madge, it's not terrible because most people think of the Americanized soda bread, sweetened and full of raisins, nuts, and/or spices.  Irish soda bread is like most Irish food in that it is peasant food.  White soda bread contains just four ingredient: flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk.  That's it.  No eggs, no sugar, no butter.

Speaking of butter, I was disappointed to find that my local grocery store had no buttermilk.  So what's a girl who loves a project to do?  Make butter and buttermilk.  And let me tell you, without a stand mixer it is definitely a PROJECT.  I had a quart of heavy cream and split it into quarters in tupperware containers and shook in front of the season finale of Jersey Shore (merp) until I got about 1 3/4 cups of buttermilk and 1 3/4 cup of butter.  I added a pinch of salt and a little honey and stashed it in my freezer so it wouldn't go bad.

Homemade Butter and Buttermilk!
What you end up with is a dense bread that is perfectly paired with your corned beef and cabbage or a little bit of Irish cheddar with a touch of honey for after dinner.  On a whim, I split the batter and added a scant half cup of raisins to one half.  This produced two manageable loaves, instead of a massive round behemoth, so I could freeze one and use one right away.

Irish Soda Bread
3 1/4 cups flour (plus some for kneading)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
Raisin variation:
1 cup for whole loaf, 1/2 cup for half loaf
1 tablespoon flour per cup of raisins

Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Whisk the flour, salt, and baking soda thoroughly to incorporate the baking soda.  Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk.  Mix with a fork.  If you are splitting the dough, this is the time to do it!

Dust your workspace with flour and lightly knead your dough.  Do not over knead, be gentle!

Form into a round loaf and place on a baking sheet.  Cut in the tradition X-mark with a butter knife, about 1/2 inches deep.

Bake for 30 minutes at 375 F for two loaves, about 40-50 minutes for a single loaf.  The bread will be done when you knock on the bottom and it sounds hollow.

Serve preferably the same day or the next day.  I topped my slices with Irish cheddar and a little honey, but I showed my Irish side (pride?) by eating it plain with butter and LOVING it!  Maybe it was because I felt accomplished since it was my own butter . . . Happy St Patrick's Day!


  1. This looks perfectly made. I know it must be delicious. I am new to your blog, so I took sometime to browse through your earlier posts. I'm so glad I did that. I really like the food and recipes you share with your readers and I'll definitely be back. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, this made my day! I'll be sure to keep them coming! I peeked through yours as well and I'm thoroughly impressed. Will definitely be checking back as well!



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