Don’t have time to make bread? Then whip up a traditional Irish soda bread instead. This loaf, which is so quick and easy to make, is absolutely delicious straight out of the oven. And any leftovers make amazing toast.
Total Time Investment: 45 Minutes
Necessity truly is the mother of invention. Last week, whilst suffering with the lurgy half of Perth seems to have at the moment, I managed to cobble together some soup for dinner. Only after achieving this magnificent feat did it occur to me that I didn’t have any form of bread to serve it with. Bread is the only thing that can convince The Princess to actually eat soup, so serving dinner without it was unthinkable. Unthinkable only because I wasn’t up to the moaning.
It was wet, cold and I really didn’t want to go out. A yeasted dough was beyond me at that point, and I didn’t have a bucket of stored dough in the fridge, so I thought I would give traditional Irish soda bread a go. I’d never made soda bread before, so what better time to try something new than when my nose was completely blocked and I couldn’t taste a thing.
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I own many cookbooks, and nestled deep in the bread section (yes, I have a bread section) is Elizabeth David’s English Bread and Yeast Cookery. Soda breads form only a small chapter of this volume, however it was the simple fact that they are “rapidly mixed, immediately consigned to the oven …, the demands of this kind of dough (being) the very reverse of those made by yeast-leavened bread doughs” that made me decide to give traditional Irish soda bread a go.Don't have time to make #bread? Then whip up a traditional #Irish soda bread instead. This loaf, which is so quick and easy to make, is absolutely delicious straight out of the oven. And any #leftovers make amazing #toast… Click To Tweet
Mr Grumpy and The Princess were adamant that all I had delivered to the table was a very large scone. And whilst the texture of the loaf is definitely different to a kneaded, yeasted bread, I think it is far denser than a scone.
At the end of it all, I actually don’t care what they think. I am quite in love with this loaf. It is quick to pull together, quick to cook and tastes great (and is even better the next day as toast). So until they decide to bake, soda bread it is.
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Ingredient Substitutions for Traditional Irish Soda Bread
With such a simple recipe, there are few opportunities to make substitutions. However, you could consider the following:
- Replace the plain white (all purpose) flour with 100% wholemeal flour. This will produce a very dense loaf with a delicious wholemeal flavour.
- If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can replace it with any milky acidic liquid. Milk kefir works well as a 1:1 replacement for the buttermilk. In a pinch, I have used sour cream thinned down with milk to the consistency of buttermilk, and you could also use yoghurt in the same way.
Tips & Tricks For Delicious Traditional Irish Soda Bread
Many traditional Irish soda bread recipes require the dough to be briefly kneaded prior to shaping. However, as the baking soda (the raising agent) starts to act as soon as liquid is added, I find that any kneading reduces the lift of the loaf. Maybe I just have heavy hands. So to ensure a light loaf, I adhere to Mrs David’s suggestion of a light and swift touch when shaping my dough.
A hot oven is crucial here to ensure the loaf starts to rise as soon as it is placed in the oven. Make sure that the oven has come to temperature before adding the liquid to the dry ingredients.
Add an egg to the mix, and you are well on the way to a traditional Irish brown bread instead.
A slightly stale loaf of traditional Irish soda bread makes sensational toast. Thickly slice any leftover soda bread, toast until lightly brown, then spread generously with strawberry jam or lime curd. Delicious.
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Traditional Irish Soda Bread
This loaf, which is so quick and easy to make, is absolutely delicious straight out of the oven. And any leftovers make amazing toast.
Makes 1 loaf
- 250 g (2 cups + 2 Tablespoons) wholemeal flour
- 250 g (2 cups) white wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda (baking soda)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 400 ml (1 3/4 cups) buttermilk
- Extra milk or buttermilk if required
- Extra flour for dusting.
- Preheat the oven to 200C (180C fan forced)
- Line a baking tray with paper.
- Sift the flours, bicarbonate soda and salt together into a large bowl.
- Make a well in the middle of the flour.
- Pour the buttermilk into the flour and mix together with a spatula to form a dough. You want the dough stiff enough to hold its shape, but not so stiff that it barely hangs together. If the mix appears to be too dry, add a small amount of extra milk to bring the dough together.
Transfer all of the dough to the centre of the baking tray.
Pat the dough into a high ball.
- Dust the top of the loaf with extra flour and slash a cross into the top.
- Bake in the hot oven for 30 - 40 minutes until the loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the base.
- Eat straight away or allow to cool before serving.
A hot oven is crucial to ensure the loaf starts to rise as soon as it is placed in the oven. Make sure that the oven has come to temperature before adding the liquid to the dry ingredients.
Update notes: This post was updated on 28th June 2018 to complete the recipe card and the improve the readability of the post.