Our favorite Irish soda bread recipe is a simple and tasty way to bring the flavors of Ireland into your home! Here you will find our favorite approach and variations for this delicious expression of Irish culture.
This Irish staple food uses bicarbonate of soda (also known as baking soda) for a leavening agent along with a catalyst, usually buttermilk. The soda and buttermilk take the place of yeast. And the best Irish Soda Bread recipe does not have to be cooked in an oven either. For example it could be cooked in a bastible pot (like a Dutch oven).
Soda Bread probably did not actually originate in Ireland... The earliest it is mentioned is leavened bread made with soda ash by the American Indians.
In 1840, bicarbonate of soda for use in baking was introduced to Ireland. It appears that soda bread became a staple of the Irish diet between 1840 and 1845.
It is said that soda bread became so popular in Ireland, in part because it is well suited for the soft grains that flourished there.
Unlike the harder grains, soft grains do not do as well with yeast. This is because of the lower gluten content. Bicarbonate of Soda was cheap to buy too. It became a traditional staple for the Irish diet.
One traditional technique, before the bread is cooked, is to carve the shape of a cross into the top. One reason is to help the bread heat evenly, although some believe it has religious meaning too. When the bread is done, it breaks easily along the lines of the cross.
But you want to know the best thing about the best Irish soda bread recipe? It tastes terrific!
Here are some common recipes...
Preheat an oven to 425 degrees F.
Grease a round-shaped cake pan lightly and flour it.
In a big bowl, sift the dry ingredients together to mix them well. Add buttermilk until you get dough that is still sticky. Turn out onto a floured board and slightly knead it (so that the gas does not totally escape). Form bread dough into rounded shape to fit the round-shaped cake pan.
On the top on the bread, make a cross-shaped cut. Make a lid using another cake pan of the same size (remember this bread was cooked in pots with lids at one time). Cook the bread covered for 30 minutes. Then take the lid off and cook 15 more minutes. Bread is done when hollow sounding when tapped on bottom.
To keep the bread a bit moist while cooling cover with a lightly dampened towel. Serve with some butter and it is great with jelly or jam.
Many variations are available, but the two above are among the most authentic. When you see fruit, nuts or other things added to the recipe, it is often very tasty but it is not a traditional Irish Soda Bread recipe.
Preheat an oven to the temperature of 425 degrees F.
Grease a cake pan lightly and flour it.
In a large mixing bowl, sift the dry ingredients together. Slowly mix in the buttermilk until the dough is sticky. Very lightly knead on a surface that is floured (be careful here not to let too much of the gas get out).
Shape the dough to fit into the round-shaped cake pan make a cut in the shape of a cross across the top of it. Take another pan and use as a lid this takes the place of the bastible pot traditionally used; bake this for about 30 minutes. Take off the lid and bake 15 more minutes.
Tap on the bottom of this bread and if it makes a hollow sound, it is done. Take a clean towel and cover it and lightly dampen. This helps the bread stay moist as it cools. Serve with butter. This Irish soda bread recipe is hearty enough to go with soup or stew.