Irish soda bread is a dense yet soft quick bread that requires no yeast. With just a few ingredients you have a hearty bread that’s simple and easy to make.
With yeast in short supply I want to share my favorite recipe for Irish soda bread. If you haven’t tried soda bread before, it’s a quick bread with a dense texture but still manages to be a light bread. It’s perfect for soup or chili nights but also makes a great grilled cheese.
What’s magical about this rustic bread, and why it’s so popular, is that it only takes a few minutes to prepare, no kneading required, and it doesn’t have to rise. You just mix the ingredients and put it in the oven. It has a crusty exterior but soft interior.
The magic happens when buttermilk reacts with baking soda, this causes it to rise without yeast. There are a lot of recipes out there for soda bread, but I like the combination of all purpose flour and cake flour in this version. It’s not as heavy as some recipes that I’ve tried.
Some folks make Irish soda bread with raisins or caraway seeds, but I like a traditional Irish soda bread with buttermilk so that I can toast it and add butter and jam or soak up the sauce from short ribs.
This is the perfect addition to add to a brisket for St. Patrick’s Day.
Ingredients for traditional Irish soda bread
Pro tip: If you’re out of buttermilk, you can make your own with just two ingredients. Here are three different methods for how to make your own buttermilk.
Adding a little sugar and butter, just two tablespoons of both, give it some flavor without making it sweet.
How do you make this soda bread recipe
Step 1: Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.
Step 2: Rub soft butter into the flour mixture and then add buttermilk, using a fork to combine.
Step 3: Shape into a round ball and place in a cast-iron skillet. Cut a deep cross into the center.
Step 4: Bake for 4o minutes. Let cool for 30 minutes before slicing.
Tips for making EASY Irish soda bread
- Don’t overwork the dough, it’s more like a biscuit than a yeast dough so just work the butter into the flour and mix it only until the flour is incorporated.
- Make sure you cut a deep cross on the top. This helps the bread cook in the center.
- Use a cast-iron skillet, it will give it the crust a crispy texture. You can make this without an iron skillet but you’ll need to adjust the cooking time, it cooks quicker in a cast-iron skillet.
Don’t think you have to be deprived of homemade bread just because you don’t have yeast. Not only is soda bread delicious but it only takes about 15 minutes to prepare, so you can make this for a weeknight dinner!
You’ll need to eat this up quickly or freeze what you can’t eat because it only stays fresh for about 3 days. It’s still great for toast after that, but it gets stale pretty quick.
What goes with soda bread
- Strawberry jam
- Beef bourguignon
- Parmesan chicken meatballs
- Sun dried tomato chicken
- Chicken wrapped in prosciutto
- Chili with short ribs
- Chicken Chili
More Quick breads
Irish Soda Bread
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup cake flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoons cream of tartar
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons butter room temp
- 1 ¾ cups buttermilk
- Preheat oven to 400º.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, soda, cream of tartar and salt.
- Add soft butter to the flour mixture and rub it into the flour with your fingers until it is incorporated.
- Start by adding 1 ½ cups of the buttermilk to the flour mixture. Use a fork to combine until there is no more flour at the bottom of the bowl. Add additional buttermilk if needed.
- Place on a lightly floured surface and pat it into a 6 inch round.
- Place dough in a 12 inch cast-iron skillet. Cut a cross on the top, 5 inches long and ¾ inch deep.
- Bake until golden brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately brush with a tablespoon of butter. Let cool for 30 minutes before slices.