Contrary to popular belief, soda bread didn’t originate in Ireland. It actually got its start with the Native Americans well before European colonization, yet the simple bread was easily adopted during the increasing poverty and famine of 19th century Ireland. Soda bread requires only a few ingredients—flour, buttermilk, baking soda, and salt, so it was an economical choice and soon became a staple in the Irish diet during those difficult times.
Legend has it that a cross was cut into the top of every loaf to ward off the devil and protect the household. The original loaves were generally baked in iron pots or griddles in open hearths. Today’s Irish soda bread typically includes add-ins to enhance the flavor. Butter, sugar, raisins, and seeds are almost always included nowadays.
Pair your hearty Irish soda bread with soup, stew, or this Crock Pot Guinness Pot Roast for a true taste of the Emerald Isle this St. Patrick’s Day.
Irish soda bread
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp caraway seeds
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 4 tbsp cold butter, cubed
- 1 egg
- 1 2/3 cups buttermilk, cold
- ~3/4 cup raisins
What else you will need:
- Cast-iron skillet, oven-safe skillet, or baking sheet lined with parchment paper\
- Wire rack
- Non-stick cooking spray or butter
- Preheat oven to 375ºF. Lightly grease oven-safe or cast-iron skillet, or line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Use a stand mixer to combine the flour, sugar, caraway seeds, salt, and baking soda.
- Add butter and mix on low until well combined.
- In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together egg and buttermilk.
- Set mixer on low, and slowly pour buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture.
- Add raisins and mix a few more seconds. Dough will still be sticky.
- Flour a hard surface. Remove dough from bowl and knead a few times before shaping into a ball.
- Place dough in prepared skillet or sheet. Cut an X on the top of the bread.
- Bake at 375ºF for 45-55 minutes, or until crust develops a golden brown color. If crust starts to brown too early or get too dark, lightly tent a piece of aluminum foil to deflect direct heat. Begin checking bread at about 30 minutes.
- Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Bread is best served warm with a bit of butter.
- Cast iron always cooks food faster, so begin to check bread around 20 minutes. Bread may be done in as early as 25 minutes.
Also see, Make the original Irish coffee.