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.
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.
Prep time: 5-10 minutes
Rise time: None
Cook time: 45-55 minutes
Total time: Approximately 1 hour
Irish soda bread keeps things simple:
- 480 Grams (4 Cups) All-Purpose Flour
- 3 Grams (1/2 Teaspoon) Salt
- 53 Grams (1/4 Cup) White Granulated Sugar
- 4 Grams (1 Teaspoon) Baking Powder
- 4 Grams (1 Teaspoon) Baking Soda
- 113 Grams (1/2 Cup) Butter, Chilled
- 242 Grams (1 Cup) Buttermilk*
- 1 Large Egg
*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.
In addition to the main ingredients, you’ll need to set aside the following:
- 1/4 Cup Butter, Melted
- 1/4 Cup Buttermilk
This will be brushed over the top of the dough right before baking.
Irish Soda bread requires a few basic tools; most of them will already be in your kitchen:
- Large Mixing Bowl
- Wooden Mixing Spoon
- Measuring Cups and Spoons
- Cheese Grater
- Sharp Knife
- Baking Sheet
- Silicon Cooking Brush
- Cooling Rack
If you’re missing any items, I’ve linked you to some of my favorite kitchen supplies on Amazon.
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 (190 degrees Celsius), and lightly grease a baking sheet.
In a mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, sugar, baking soda, and baking powder.
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.
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.
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.
Use a sharp knife to slash an X into the dough. Cut approximately 1/2 in. to 3/4 in. into the dough.
In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup buttermilk with 1/4 cup melted butter. Brush this mixture over the dough.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Brush with the buttermilk and butter mixture, and then bake for an additional 15 minutes.
Use a toothpick to check if your bread is done. If needed, brush with buttermilk and butter once more and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes.
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.
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 demigorgon from Stranger Things. I suppose if you had a bit of practice, you could intentionally 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.
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.
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.
Just the Basics
Fast Irish Soda Bread
- 480 Grams All-Purpose Flour (4 Cups)
- 3 Grams Salt (1/2 Teaspoon)
- 53 Grams White Granulated Sugar (1/4 Cup)
- 4 Grams Baking Powder (1 Teaspoon)
- 4 Grams Baking Soda (1 Teaspoon)
- 113 Grams Butter, Chilled (1/2 Cup)
- 242 Grams Buttermilk (1 Cup)
- 1 Large Egg
- Preheat the oven to 375° Fahrenheit (190° Celsius), and lightly grease a baking sheet.
- In a mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, sugar, baking soda, and baking powder.
- Cut cold butter into the flour.
- Add buttermilk and egg. Stir together and knead it a little until a ball forms.
- Shape dough into a disc and place on baking sheet.
- Use a sharp knife to slash an X into the dough. Cut approximately 1/2 in. to 3/4 in. into the dough.
- In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup buttermilk with 1/4 cup melted butter. Brush this mixture over the dough.
- Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Brush with the buttermilk and butter mixture, and then bake for an additional 15 minutes.
- Use a toothpick to check if your bread is done. If needed, brush with buttermilk and butter once more and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes.
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.
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!