Irish Soda Bread is a delicious quick bread leavened with baking soda; hence the name soda bread. Traditionally this dense bread was made entirely with whole wheat flour. However, in more recent years, white flour has been substituted for all or part of the whole wheat flour, resulting in a less-dense and lighter soda bread. A popular variation to Soda Bread is called Barmbrack, which contains raisins or currants and caraway seeds; the variation is given below.
Rather than having to slice a loaf of Soda Bread at the table, which generates lots of crumbs, many modern Irish cooks roll or pat the soda bread dough out onto a floured pastry cloth to 1” thickness (about 9” round) and cut it into 12 wedges. Not only do the wedges take less time to bake, there is no slicing required.
Soda Bread is a must for St. Patrick’s Day, or whenever Irish food is on the menu. It can be baked early in the day, wrapped in a dishtowel to keep it fresh, and cut at the table; this is the traditional way. It is, however, also delicious when served piping hot from the oven.
Irish Soda Bread
4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 3/4 cups well shaken buttermilk
2 tablespoons melted butter
Preheat oven to 375°.
Mix the flour, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl and stir in sugar. Add buttermilk; stir just until dough is evenly moistened but still lumpy.
Transfer dough to a lightly floured pastry cloth or a well-floured surface and gently knead with floured hands about 8 times to form a soft, but slightly less sticky dough. Halve dough and form into 2 balls. Pat out each ball into a domed 6-inch round on baking sheet. Cut a 1/2 inch deep X on top of each loaf with a sharp knife, then brush loaves with butter. If scones are preferred, pat the dough into a 9-10” round and cut into 12 wedges.
Bake the loaves until golden brown and bottoms sound hollow when tapped, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer loaves to racks to cool completely.
Note: Scones should bake 20-25 minutes.
Variation: For Barmbrack, add 1 1/2 tablespoons caraway seeds and 1 cup raisins with the buttermilk.
Amount Per Serving
Calories 346 Calories from Fat 38
Percent Total Calories From: Fat 11% Protein 11% Carb. 78%
Nutrient Amount per Serving
Total Fat 4 g
Saturated Fat 2 g
Cholesterol 10 mg
Sodium 534 mg
Total Carbohydrate 68 g
Dietary Fiber 1 g
Sugars 0 g
Protein 9 g
Vitamin A 3% Vitamin C 2% Calcium 0% Iron 8%