Irish Soda Bread recipe
I use the words "Traditional" and "Authentic" in the same sentence in my title for specific reasons. From the myriad number of books, articles that I have researched, I have come to conclude that many of Irish Soda recipes on the net do only one of the above - Either they are Traditional (not authentic) or vice versa. There was a reason why 'Soda' bread was made. I have about 20 recipes noted down and all of them fail in the following points
  • They use YEAST. ( now wait a minute - isn't this supposed to be a SODA bread?)
  • They use butter, sugar and eggs ( Then this should have been called Irish Soda Cake!)
  • They use baking powder (ts, tch)
  • They use Citrus zests ( who knew of zests in those days - or did they?)
The traditional version of the basic Soda bread are as follows
  • Flour (mostly wheat flour - hence the name Brown Soda Bread. You can use a little white flour too)
  • salt
  • Baking soda
  • Buttermilk
THAT'S IT!. The reasonable variations for this bread would be to say add few caraway seeds (not sunflower/pumpkin seeds!) or may be few dried fruits( like raisins,currents or prunes. Please don't add Dates, apples or cranberries!! ) They would be luxury bread and mostly added when using white flour.
Irish Soda Bread recipe
The Irish Soda bread was traditionally made using what is called as "Bastible Pot" ( also known as Dutch Oven)  and not in an Oven since during the 1800s there weren't many ovens. See this link to know about Bastible Pot My recipe is a toss up between the festive/luxury and the day to day basic version. I use whole wheat flour predominantly with a little white flour thrown in. I had some prunes in my pantry which I threw in. Other than that its very similar to the original version. I don't own a Dutch Oven, hence used my oven to bake the same.
  • Cook time:
  • Prep time:
  • Yields: Makes one 9X5 inch loaf
Ingredients
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking Soda
  • 1/4 cup stoned prunes (optional)
  • 1-1/4 cups buttermilk
Method
1. Preheat Oven to 400F. Sift the flours together with the soda and salt. Add the prunes if using.
2. Make a well and add the buttermilk. Using your hands, mix to combine.
3. Knead until it comes together into a slightly sticky dough. If too sticky, add a little wheat flour. If too dry add little more buttermilk.
4. *Update* I forgot to mention one important thing and only when Ashwini mentioned it, that I remembered that I had completely skipped writing it here. Don't knead it too much. Its more like mix and toss - that's gives it this rustic look which you can see in the above pictures. Turn it out into a floured surface and knead to form a smooth flat round. They are this shape traditionally. Dust it with little flour and then cut a deep large cross on its surface. The reason for this extends more than for just beautiful looking bread. Scientifically speaking, this deep cross helped the heat to penetrate into the thickest part of the bread and helped it to bake evenly. (of course other superstition like warding off evil eye and the likes were present too! I will stick to the scientific version.)
5. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until risen and golden.
Cool on a wire rack and serve. It esp tastes exceptional with butter! Irish Soda Bread recipe

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19 Comments

By Manasa on Jun 1, 2016

I've just started baking recently, and found ur recipe. Makes so much sense to since i dont use egg. And for a long time i didn't make soda bread since every recipe that i read seemed to use it. One thing though, have u since then made this recipe using a Dutch Oven? any updates/pointers that I can bear in mind reg that?

By Leo Mac on Mar 17, 2013

That I Is not Traditional Irish Soda, No currants or prunes In Trad. Irish Soda & I'm From Cork City in Ireland!!!!

Please refer my texts before the recipe --DK

By LeyLine on Oct 28, 2012

Thank you for your recipe! I am Russian, but totally addicted to Irish Soda Bread! I heard it must be black currents. You do mention currents, but I am just wondering whether it's black ones that would be authentic. Because there are also red and white varieties.

By Sinead on Dec 3, 2010

From what I understand we also use a bit different 'flour' than most. We have what we call soft wholemeal, or soft wheat. It doesn't have nearly as much gluten as in other countries. Makes the bread completely different in taste and texture than typical wholemeal (wheat) flour. Also, in Ulster, only white bread is considered soda bread even today, and the wheat bread is called brown soda everywhere else. Another superstition... da told me that they used to put a coin in one section of the bread and spin it before breaking it, and who found the coin in his bread would have a lucky year.

By vini on Sep 4, 2009

Hi, I tried this today.the crust was really tasty bt the bread was dense and the taste was like cooked chapati aata.Still not bad...I had halved the recipe.Can u tell me what could have gone wrong.Should I have used more soda? Thanks
Hi Vini - I don't know exactly how it tasted in your case - but the fact is that this Soda Bread does not taste like normal breads. The texture will little dryer than normal loafs and harder. Though it would look like a rock on the surface when you cut into it, the insides should be little moist.Traditional soda bread does not have the usual cake-like" texture that some breads enjoy thanks to some yeast. It is more chewy and has a v mild taste of soda. This recipe is enhanced with prunes hence they would mildly sweet as well. Again it depends on what exactly you used in the bread - like if it was white flour, the type of seasoning etc. Was yours cooked enough? Or was it cooked too long? I would say the best way to check if it was done would be tap it on the bottom - it will sound hollow when baked to perfection. Hope this helps

By Alison Fairgrieve on Aug 27, 2009

Cup measures and soda bread Can you please give the equivalents of the cup measure you use in imperial and metric measure? Your bread looks so perfect I want to follow your recipe exactly. iIhave made soda breads and scones on and off since my Scots/Irish childhood, but now I want to sell it in the Women's Institute market. i can't afford to experiment and waste ingredients for too long. Ovens in the UK are now all marked in centigrade now. Iis yours a fan oven or not? Research on cup measures is extremely confusing. There seem to be several types of American cup measure and also cups from other countries as well. I use electronic scales and jug liquid measures in millilitres or imperial pints and ounces. Buttermilk can be bought in English supermarkets but is quite pricey. What is your opinion of using the cheapest thin yoghurt instead? I have signed up for this excellent site which is mercifully current, i see.
Hi Alison, I know I took considerable time in replying to your request. I am more so a cups and spoon type person and it took me quite some time to even figure out how exactly I can convert my measurements into pints and ounces. I have been trying to get my hands on the scale without success now. I was earlier going to send you some measurement which I thought were correct but I tried out with the same at home, and the taste was not similar to my original one at all. Hence not sending you those measurements. I can instead tell you the cup measurement I used : 1 cup measures to 1/2 pint or abt 8 ounces. and 1-1/4 cups of buttermilk will amount to a approx. a little more than 300ml or 10 ounce measurement. - at least that's what a cup which I got yesterday tells me. Yes you can use yogurt, add little water, stir it well until smooth/thick to amount to 1-1/4 cups and use the same. I did the same. Hope this info helps. Sorry for the delay.

By CurryLeaf on Jul 27, 2009

Wow,that was a great post.But never ever heard of yeasty soda bread,the link is very interesting.The addition of prunes makes it more welcoming I must add.Also surprised that you posted bread after preserves wheareas I was expecting scones for AWED.Silly me. :D

By Lakshmi Venkatesh on Jul 26, 2009

Soda Bread looks very superb and rustic. Never made bread without yeast. As usual bookmarked.

By Parita on Jul 26, 2009

Irish soda bread looks perfect! i have never baked one, but would love to add in few raisins too :)

By sunita on Jul 26, 2009

Soda bread with yeast???!!! Yours looks beautiful and very rustic :-) Oh yes..see this link for example :) -DK

By Erin from long island on Jul 26, 2009

It thrills me to no end to finally see someoned who gets it. Iam American, with Irish roots, and this IS the real deal! I confess, I dress mine up with raisins and a bit of molasses. Another superstition behind the cross (we Irish are very superstitious) is because it was believed the devil lived in the flour (Yeah, i dont get it either) and the cross let the devil out. So, there ya go! Devil in the flour? LOL! Really! But I wud love to hear the stories...They are so innovative and inventive. - DK

By Aparna on Jul 25, 2009

You've got the prefect soda bread! I've never seen a soda bread recipe with yeats, butter or eggs; but then maybe I've been looking in the wrong place!! ;-)

By Divya Vikram on Jul 25, 2009

Great instructions Dhiv. hope I get the courage to bake such a bread one day!

By jayasree on Jul 25, 2009

Loved the rustic look. Great writeup on the soda bread. Would love to try this sometime.

By Kavey on Jul 25, 2009

Completely agree with your list of things that have no place in a soda bread recipe, particularly yeast, butter, sugar and eggs!!! My recipe is similar to yours though I do allow myself one indulgence which is to add some oatmeal. I love the resulting heavy texture. I'm confused about your distinction between traditional and authentic and I'm not sure I understand when you say some recipes were traditional but not authentic and others authentic but not traditional. Please could you elaborate? :)
I used the term in an abstract way. Like say for example : You follow some recipes thanks to the tradition of making it in one particular way for generations. So there may be a possibility that you have had that recipe passed on which has stuff like apples, sugar etc . You call it traditional (and so do many..) but its not authentic to what it originally is. By Authentic I mean, it is perfect to the tee - you know that THIS bread is indeed Irish soda bread - but such recipes frown upon using any kind of variation which I personally think is little too harsh since - some families in old Ireland did indeed use variations as per the occasion. Like say during festive times, they added white flour instead of wheat and threw in some caraway seeds- raisins etc to celebrate say a great harvest. So there is some tradition and there is authentic - I know they both should have been the same but for some reason when it comes to this bread it is not..hence I wrote it the way I did :) Hope this helped :) - DK

By singh b on Jul 24, 2009

the bread is looking very good ,best thing is that in this bread we are not using lots of bread and recipe is also not very tough ...............thanks for such a awesome bread

By Pavani on Jul 24, 2009

Good work DK.. Nice research. I'm planning to make soda bread too but with a twist. Will post soon. Have a good weekend.

By TheThoughtfulTrain on Jul 24, 2009

Hey lady, I saw this on Food Network the other day. They recommend the dough not be kneaded for too long and to bake in a closed vessel for a rustic looking bread. Yours looks awesome. Thinking of making the same for dinner. And me customization princess too (Since you are the queen .. ;-)) Thanks so much! Oh yeah - forgot to mention it. Updated the post now! Me a queen?! Now I am feeling totally regal..*look mom I can fly!*

By veggiebelly on Jul 24, 2009

I'm impressed. Youve really researched your soda bread! gee thanks girl :)