Fast Irish Soda Bread

irish soda bread on white plate next to butter and chicken soup

In a rush? You can find just the Irish Soda Bread Recipe at my Tumblr.

I love the idea of quick bread. No need to wait all day for your dough to rise, only to punch it down and wait all over again. Just stir it together, pop it in the oven, and in less than an hour, you have a beautiful loaf waiting for you. So when I found a recipe for Irish soda bread, I couldn’t wait to give it a go.

Unfortunately, my amateur baking skills ruined my first few loaves. Try as I might, my loaves came out deformed, burnt, and raw all at the same time. It took me nearly five attempts to get this recipe right. But once I pulled that picture-perfect loaf from the oven, I couldn’t be more thrilled with my success.

Just look at that gorgeous slice.

irish soda bread in half

Alright. I admit there’s room for improvement. My loaf did turn out a bit dense and crumbly, like cornbread. But after a bit of reading, I discovered that’s the beauty of Irish soda bread. Traditional soda bread is supposed to be soft, cake-like, dense, and hearty. It’s meant for everyday use, to keep you full for hours.

Although this bread takes some practice, it comes together so quickly that you can have it ready just in time for dinner. It pairs well with soups, stews, and chilis, but feel free to munch on it whenever you have the inclination.

Time

Prep time: 5-10 minutes
Rise time: None
Cook time: 45-55 minutes
Total time: Approximately 1 hour

Ingredients

Irish soda bread keeps things simple:

  • 4 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 Cup White Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Cup Butter, Chilled
  • 1 Cup Buttermilk*
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/4 Cup Butter, Melted
  • 1/4 Cup Buttermilk

*Don’t Have Buttermilk? Put 1 tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar into one cup and fill the rest of the cup with regular milk. Wait 5 to 10 minutes to allow it to sour.

Additional Equipment

Irish Soda bread requires a few basic tools; most of them will already be in your kitchen:

If you’re missing any items, I’ve linked you to some of my favorite kitchen supplies on Amazon.

Instructions

Since Irish Soda Bread comes together so quickly, you’ll want to preheat your oven right from the get-go. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and lightly grease a baking sheet.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, sugar, baking soda, and baking powder.

wooden spoon scooping up flour

Cut cold butter into the flour. You may use a pastry knife or cut the butter into cubes. I found it easiest to use a grater to shred the butter for an even mix.

butter next to grater

Add buttermilk and egg. Stir together and knead it a little until a ball forms. The dough will still be a bit lumpy and sticky.

irish soda bread dough ball

Shape dough into a disc and place on baking sheet. Keep in mind that the higher and thicker the dough, the longer it takes to cook. If it’s too thick, you might burn the top before the middle has a chance to cook.

disc shape dough for irish soda bread

Use a sharp knife to slash an X into the dough. Cut approximately 1/2 in. to 3/4 in. into the dough.

x slash in dough

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup buttermilk with 1/4 cup melted butter. Brush this mixture over the dough.

brush with butter

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Brush with the buttermilk and butter mixture, and then bake for an additional 15 minutes.

baked irish soda bread

Check for doneness with a toothpick. If needed, brush with buttermilk and butter once more and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes.

irish soda bread on white plate

Allow the bread to cool before cutting. Enjoy!

Secrets to Success

I made quite a few mistakes while making my Irish soda bread. Fortunately, I managed to learn a few things with each attempt.

First, don’t cut too deep. After watching The Great British Baking Show on Netflix, I couldn’t wait to buy a bread dough scraper and try making delicious baked goods for myself. In my excitement and zeal, I cut almost to the bottom.

irish soda bread dough x slash

When I baked my bread, the dough rose in the oven and the pieces bloomed outward. I ended up with a loaf that looked a lot like the demigorgan from Stranger Things. I suppose if you had a bit of practice, you could intentially cut the dough to make a flower or similar pattern, but keep in mind that the tips will bake much faster than the dough in the middle. You may end up with burned corners like I did.

misshapen irish soda bread

Second, don’t make a perfectly round ball of dough. The thicker your dough ball, the harder it will be to cook. Try to create more of a flattened disc than a globe.

The first time I made this bread, I forgot to account for the fact that the bread needs a chance to rise in the oven, and the rise will give it a rounder shape. If you make your dough too thick, you may end up with bread that looks great on the outside but is completely raw in the middle, like my attempt below.

bread with raw middle

Also, I suggest using a sharp knife rather than a dough chopper like the one I bought. While a dough chopper is great for a lot of different recipes, this is not one of them. The dough chopper pushes and compacts the dough in the middle, so it has a harder time cooking and defeats the purpose of cutting a slash in the first place.

And finally, don’t immediately cut into the bread when you pull it out of the oven. Although this bread is best served warm, cutting into it too quickly will turn the bread gummy.

Nutritional Information

Irish soda bread is a bit heavy, so you’ll want to cut smaller pieces to keep calories in check. I tend to cut my bread into 8 slices, and the nutritional information reflects that.

irish soda bread nutritional information

As per usual, keep in mind that nutritional information varies depending on brands and amounts you use. Also, this nutrition label assumes that you use all of the buttermilk and butter on your bread. You don’t have to brush it all onto the crust, but the mixture will give you a softer crust.

Did You Try It?

I love this how fast and filling Irish soda bread is, and I am excited to make it on a regular basis. Hopefully, my tips and tricks can help you make an awesome loaf. I’d love to see how you did with this recipe. Did you make just as many mistakes as I did? Do you have additional secrets for making even better bread? Comment below!