Crusty and classic, this easy Irish soda bread recipe comes straight from my grandma’s kitchen.
Tomorrow, St. Patrick’s Day, would be my grandmother’s 89th birthday. I’m often asked from where I gather my inspiration in the kitchen. It’s all her. She passed in 2011. I started my blog two weeks later.
I dedicated my first cookbook to grandma where I published a couple of her famous recipes. And by “famous” I mean loved by our sweets-loving-family. And hopefully famous in your family now too? Who’s tried her sticky sweet pecan rolls?
Today I’m sharing another one of grandma’s classics. It wasn’t St. Patrick’s Day nor her birthday without crusty Irish soda bread filled with plump raisins.
The thought of homemade bread may send you running for the hills, but baking Irish soda bread is anything but scary. In fact, it’s the quickest, easiest bread recipe you’ll find on my blog at this point.
Irish soda bread is a quickbread whose rise comes from baking soda (hence, soda!) instead of bread recipes using yeast. My ideal Irish soda bread, like this one, has a beautiful golden brown crust with a dense yet slightly tender interior. The crust is my favorite part. This is coming from the same girl who LOVES the corners of brownies. Are you like that too? Probably not. The cheese stands alone.
It’s not overly sweet at all. (Sugar break.) For flavor, I always add raisins to the bread. Certainly this doesn’t surprise you. Irish soda bread is damn tasty served with a hot bowl of soup. I like mine in the morning with butter and jam. I feel like this paragraph just got really boring.
To make it:
Notice how I score the top of the bread with a cross or “X” before going in the oven? This helps the center bake through.
Buttermilk is key. With its thick and creamy texture, smooth tangy buttery taste, produces tender soda bread. Something else to note: never overwork Irish soda bread dough. Though a dense bread, the dough is fragile. Overkneading the dough will lend a tough texture.
What this bread lacks in chocolate / caramel / peanut butter / cookie dough / sprinkles, it makes up for in crispy crust, tender center, and remarkable taste.
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Grandma's Irish Soda Bread
It's classic. It's crusty. This easy Irish soda bread recipe comes straight from my grandma's kitchen!
- 1 and 3/4 cups (420ml) buttermilk1
- 1 large Eggland's Best egg
- 4 and 1/4 cups (515g) all-purpose flour (plus more for your hands and work surface) (measured correctly)
- 3 Tablespoons (38g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 and 1/2 Tablespoons (65g) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
- 1 cup (150g) raisins (I use half golden, half regular)2
- Preheat oven to 425°F (218°C). Lightly grease a 8-10 inch oven safe skillet or cake pan with butter or nonstick spray. A baking sheet will also do, though the bread may spread out a bit more.
- Whisk the buttermilk and egg together in a small bowl. Set aside. Whisk the flour, granulated sugar, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Cut in the butter using a pastry blender, two forks/knives, or your fingers. Work the dough until into coarse crumbs, then fold in the raisins with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the buttermilk mixture. Gently fold the dough together until dough is too stiff to stir. With floured hands, work the dough into a ball as best you can. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface and knead the dough for about 30 seconds or until all the flour is moistened. Dough will be sticky, but if it is absolutely too sticky add a little more flour as needed. Do not overknead.
- Transfer the dough to the prepared skillet/pan. Using a lightly buttered serrated knife, score an X on the top. Bake until the bread is golden brown and center appears cooked through, about 45 minutes. Loosely cover the bread with aluminum foil if you notice heavy browning on top about halfway through bake time.
- Remove skillet/pan from the oven and allow bread to cool for 10 minutes before transferring it to a wire rack. Serve warm, at room temperature, or toasted with desired toppings/spreads.
- Make ahead tip: Irish soda bread can dry out quickly, so keep it wrapped up tight with aluminum foil or plastic wrap for around 3-4 days. Freezes well, up to 2-3 months. Thaw and reheat as desired.
- Buttermilk is key to this bread's texture. If you don't have any on hand, you can make a homemade "DIY" version. Whole milk or 2% milk is best for this DIY version. Whisk 1 and 3/4 cups milk with 5 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice or distilled white vinegar. Let sit for 5 minutes. The soured milk can now be used in the recipe.
- Instead of raisins, try 1 cup of nuts or dried cranberries/dried blueberries/currants. Or leave the bread plain.
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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Eggland’s Best provided me with eggs to bring you this recipe.