There are some recipes that are so good they survive many centuries. Irish soda bread is one of these recipes and it couldn’t be easier to make. Plus, the bonus to making this hearty bread is that you don’t need any yeast at all, which is pretty great news if your cupboard is lacking this baking essential.
Because this bread contains no yeast, it also doesn’t require any rise time. There’s no waiting, no kneading, and no punching down the dough. The quick prep time is just one more thing to love about soda bread.
You begin making this quick bread by mixing together the dry ingredients. Then you slowly add buttermilk until just combined. If you don’t have buttermilk you can make your own replacement by combining milk and vinegar at a ratio of 1 cup milk to 1 tablespoon white vinegar. Whole milk works best for this and the final result really does add that buttermilk flavor to baked goods.
The buttermilk also acts as a leavening agent for the bread, meaning that it will rise quite nicely in the oven. This type of bread also gets rise from baking soda, hence the name.
Once the dough comes together you mold it into a round shape by smoothing the dough under and turning it. You repeat this process until a nice, even shape is formed. Then you cut an X into the top of the loaf so that it can expand in the oven. If you don’t control where the splits are (i.e. the X) then you may end up with a very asymmetrical loaf that bakes unevenly and looks unappetizing.
You’ll know your bread is done baking if it sounds hollow when thumped. Because there is no yeast soda bread does have a denser texture than other breads, However, we find this is a nice feature when applying condiments as the bread stands up to cold butter very well.
This isn’t a recipe for a loaf pan, but the rustic shape and the lovely crust this bread gets make it a welcome change of pace to serve with dinner or for breakfast with butter and jam.
If you’re low on yeast or just want to try a new type of bread then traditional Irish soda bread is the one to go for. It’s hard to believe something so tasty could be so easy to make!
Traditional Soda Bread
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for flouring work surface
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, (make your own by following the ratio of 1 cup whole milk to 1 tablespoon white vinegar)
- Preheat oven to 425˚.
- In large bowl combine dry ingredients, then slowly add buttermilk until just mixed.
- Flour work surface and turn out dough.
- Mold into a round shape and cut a large cross into top.
- Transfer to baking sheet. Bake for 35 minutes or until golden crust forms on outside. When fully baked loaf should sound hollow when knocked on.
Recipe adapted from The Stay at Home Chef.