Soda Bread became a staple in Irish homes after the potato famine wiped out crops and baking soda became more readily available in the 1840s. Baking soda was cheap and kept longer than yeast.
Traditional Irish Soda Bread uses only 4 ingredients that the poor would have had access to. Buttermilk was a bi-product of making butter so it did not go to waste.
The cross on the bread allows the center of the bread to cook through and not be too dense or undercooked.
Easy Peasy Irish Soda Bread
- 4 cups unbleached white flour
- 1 3/4 cups buttermilk Make your own*
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- Preheat your oven to 425F. Traditionally the bread was baked in a well-greased 8" cast iron pot with a lid. But you can use a skillet or two 8" cake tins. Grease one, the other will serve as a lid.
- Mix the flour, salt and baking soda in a large bowl.
- Add the buttermilk and mix into a loose dough, adding more flour if the dough is too sticky.
- Turn out on to a floured board and knead lightly. Tuck the sides in to make a smooth top or make the bottom smooth and then turn the smooth side up.
- Place the bread into your prepared pan. Make a cross on top with a knife. Cover with lid.
- Bake for about 40 minutes. If you like a browned top, remove the lid after 25 minutes. It will be done when the X looks baked and the bread sounds hollow when lightly tapped.
- Let sit for 10 or 15 minutes and then pop out of the pan. Use a serrated knife to slice and enjoy!
- It will keep fresh 2 or 3 days if you keep wrapped in a plastic bread bag. Beyond that, you should wrap and freeze for up to 3 months.
- For brown soda bread, use a mix of 3 cups of white with 1 cup whole wheat flour.
- Add 1 1/2 cups of raisins, currants, chocolate chips or chopped nuts.
- For cheese and herb bread, add 1 cup of grated cheese and 2 tbsp. of chopped fresh herbs
- You can make a sweet version by adding 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 cup of dried canberries.