Our version of Irish soda bread is tender, flavorful, and most of all, EASY! Whip up a batch in no time and you’ll have your house smelling like home.
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You know how some people are all down on baking mixes? Like, cake mix is an abomination, and if that’s the only option it’s better to have NO CAKE AT ALL?
Those people be crazy.
Me, I love a good mix. Sure, some mixes are pretty poor quality, but sometimes you find one that’s a winner, and then guess what? There are less steps between you and a delicious baked treat. Sounds like a genius plan to me.
When I was studying abroad in Ireland, we found just such a mix for Irish soda bread, or “brown bread” as I think this particular brand called it. We were four girls in an apartment with a comically small kitchen, expected to store all of our groceries in a single mini fridge. Needless to say, our cooking was on the simple side. Kneading bread? No counter space for that nonsense. But a mix for a homemade quick bread? Now THAT we could manage. Pro tip: if your kitchen lacks a bread pan, improvise with an inverted, unidentified pyrex lid that doesn’t seem to match up with any actual container! Small kitchens don’t matter when you get to eat fresh, crusty bread – and everything feels a little more like home.
The recipe I’m sharing today for Irish soda bread doesn’t actually use a mix, but it’s darn close. In the spirit of those cozy-kitchen days, this is a truly traditional Irish recipe, with five ingredients, no kneading, and way more deliciousness than seems possible for something so easy.
Traditional Irish soda bread uses flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk. That’s it! Some recipes use white flour, some use wheat, or in this case, I use a combination of both for some extra texture without too much heaviness. Mix it all together in one bowl, throw it in the oven, and you’re literally done. A mix could hardly be easier. (OK a mix is a LITTLE easier. But not much.)
Now, I have nothing against some recipes out there that add raisins or sugar or a little somethin’ somethin’ extra to Irish soda bread. I bet they’re deeeelicious. But, to me, they’re just not soda bread. I mean, the mix I used in Ireland didn’t have raisins. Soooooo…. case closed.
What I love most about this particular recipe is that the Irish soda bread comes out perfectly tender. Some breads tend to be a bit dry, especially by the second or third day. Not this one! The leftovers maintain just the right level of moistness without being heavy. You sort of don’t even NEED to slather it with butter…but I do anyway 😉
I recommend cooking the bread in a Dutch oven if you have one. It’s a great way to get a tender loaf with a crusty exterior. But don’t forget that substitutions are perfectly acceptable. Try another pan that will give you a round loaf (cake plate? pie tin?), or, in a pinch, just plop the dough on a cookie sheet. Heck, this is supposed to be a rustic bread. Use what you’ve got.
Serve the bread for breakfast with some eggs and rashers (or black and white pudding if you’re feeling daring!), or slice it up for dinner with a hearty Guinness stew. Heck, I’ll eat it as a snack with a smear of honey, any time of day. (Hint: it also goes well with a steaming mug of Irish coffee).
From tiny kitchens come great things. Happy St. Patty’s Day, y’all!
- 1½ cups all purpose flour
- 1½ cups whole wheat flour
- 1¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2¼ cups buttermilk
- Preheat oven to 450. Line the bottom of a 10-inch Dutch oven with parchment paper. No need to cut out a circle - just let the excess paper come up the sides of the pot. Spray the Dutch oven and paper with nonstick cooking spray. Instead of a Dutch oven, you can also use a cake pan or pie plate.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the buttermilk and stir with a wooden spoon until just incorporated. The dough will be quite wet.
- Scoop the dough into the Dutch oven. Smooth the top if you like, and cut an X in the top with a very sharp knife.
- Bake, covered, for about 35-45 minutes, until the bread has risen and is a light brown. (If you're using a cake or pie pan, try covering it with another pan, or even a cookie sheet.) Continue baking uncovered for another 10-15 minutes, until the top is a deep brown.
- Remove bread from the pan and cool on a wire rack. It will have the best texture if you wait until it's cool to cut it - but who has that kind of patience? (But give it at least 10 minutes anyway.) I like to eat my slice with butter and honey.
Need some more Irish in your life? How about some Irish coffee with Bailey’s whipped cream?
….or these cheeky Irish car bomb cupcakes?