If you’ve ever had the luxury to vacation in the countryside of Ireland, you no doubt recall the beautiful rolling hills, quaint little farms, and the most divine Irish soda bread you’ve ever had!
Barring all but the true traditionalists, most are happy to know that most Irish soda bread recipes can be done without a peat fire. Any old oven will do just fine to bake this favorite from the Emerald Isle, and it’s not hard to prepare.
Like any recipe, everybody adds their own touch to the fabled Irish soda bread, and everybody has their subtle preference: Fruit like raisins, seeds or nuts, all of the above. But the requirements are simply buttermilk, baking soda, flour and salt. No yeast is called for! Together these raise the bread nicely. Keep in mind that your Irish soda bread should be enjoyed after baking (when it’s still warm!) as it’s only fresh for a few short days. Now let’s get to it!
Irish Soda Bread Recipe
- 4-4.5 cups of whole wheat flour — or a mixture of whole wheat flour and plain white flour
- Salt (1 teaspoon)
- Baking soda (1 teaspoon)
- Buttermilk (2 cups)
- Raisins (1 cup)
- Sugar (2 tablespoons)
- Butter (4 tablespoons)
- 1 Egg (beaten softly)
Pre-heat oven at 425 degrees. Mix together flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda in a large mixing bowl.
Use a knife or pie cutter to knead butter into the flour concoction. The texture should look like coarse meal.
Leave a hole in the middle of the flour mixture and then add the buttermilk and egg to this hole. Mix well with a wooden spoon. Continue until the dough is too firm to mix any longer.
Add a little flour to your hands and work the dough in the bowl enough to form a rough ball, but no more! Too much will work against it.
Move the dough to a new surface coated with flour. Here you can mold it into a loaf.
Now slightly grease a skillet or a baking sheet and move the dough onto this. With a sharp knife, cut a cross or “X” shape about half an inch deep into the dough. Historically this is said to bless the bread!
Put it into the oven now and bake until golden brown, which is about 40 minutes. Depending on the pan you placed in the oven, it may take a few more minutes to heat up. Tap the underside of the bread with a spoon; it should sound hollow when done.
Sticking a thin spear into the center of the bread should reveal how well baked it is. And finally, move the finished bread to a safe rack and allow it time to cool.
Best served warm in slices to a room full of friends!
→ American Irish Stew