Caraway Soda Bread

One of the things I love about making soda bread is that it is just so darn easy. With yeast breads you have to proof the yeast, knead the dough, let the dough rise, etc. But with soda breads, there’s no proofing, kneading, or waiting. In fact, because the leavening comes from mixing the base of the baking soda with the acid in the buttermilk (remember those fascinating-at-the-time childhood experiments of sprinkling vinegar onto baking soda?), you pretty much pop it in the oven as soon as you put the dough together. The trick is to use a light hand, just work the dough barely enough to bring it together. It looks like a sheep-doggy shaggy mess, but it bakes up beautifully—lightly browned and crusty on the outside, while soft and tender on the inside.

As for the caraway seeds in this soda bread, these are included on the light side, giving a not-so-over powering caraway kick to the bread.

Follow on Pinterest

Caraway Soda Bread Recipe

  • Yield: Makes one loaf.

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour (1 pound)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 4 Tbsp butter (1/2 stick) room temp
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk*

*If necessary, you can substitute buttermilk with a half cup of plain yogurt mixed in with a cup of plain milk and a tablespoon of white vinegar.

Method

1 Preheat oven to 450°F. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and caraway seeds.

caraway-soda-bread-1.jpgcaraway-soda-bread-2.jpg

2 Using your fingers (or a fork) work the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.

caraway-soda-bread-3.jpgcaraway-soda-bread-4.jpg

3 Make a well in the center of the flour. Pour the buttermilk into the center and using either your hands or a wooden spoon, fold the flour over the buttermilk and gently mix until just combined. The dough should be neither too wet or too dry, so if it is a little too dry to work with, add a little more buttermilk. If too wet, add a little more flour. Roughly shape into a ball and place on a floured surface. Knead just a few times to shape it into a round loaf. Do not over-knead or the bread will be tough.

caraway-soda-bread-5.jpgcaraway-soda-bread-6.jpg

4 Place dough loaf onto a lightly greased baking sheet (or cast iron pan). Make 1 1/2-inch deep cuts, forming a cross, from side to side on the loaf. The scoring helps the heat get to the center of the loaf while cooking.

5 Place in oven, cook for 15 minutes at 450°F, then lower the heat to 400°F and cook for 25 more minutes. One way to test for doneness is to take it out of the oven, turn it over and knock on the bottom. If it sounds hollow, it's done. You can also use a skewer inserted into the center.

Let bread sit on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes to cool. Then remove it to a rack to cool a little bit longer. I think the bread is best when it is still warm and just baked. Quick breads like this, which rely on baking soda for leavening, are generally best eaten soon after they're baked.

Hello! All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use our photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this recipe, please rewrite the recipe in your own unique words and link back to the source recipe here on Simply Recipes. Thank you!

32 Comments

  1. Maria

    Is there a way to make this bread without dairy?

    Well, you could try it with water and vinegar instead of the buttermilk, and skipping the butter (traditional Irish recipes don’t use butter), but I don’t think it would taste very good. If you do try it, please let us know how it turns out for you. ~Elise

  2. Ophelia

    Oh this looks great! I was looking for an easy bread to make. I recently got married and got a Kitchenaid stand mixer (woohoo!) — could I use that for this recipe, or would that just lead to overworking the dough?

    I would save the KitchenAid (btw congrats!) for cookies, cakes, or yeast breads. There’s no need for it in this recipe, and you do risk over mixing. ~Elise

  3. Norman

    Can I use a baking stone with this recipe?

    Great idea. I don’t see why not (but don’t blame me if it doesn’t work out, I don’t really know). ;-) ~Elise

  4. Linda in Washington State

    I have a fond memory of making Irish soda bread no raisns for my senior high school english class. I thought no one would eat but one guy thought it was great. We used a loaf in a class skit too!!

    Could Soy milk sub for the buttermilk in this recipe?

    Hi Linda, great question on the soy milk. You need something acidic, to create the reaction with the baking soda for the leavening. So perhaps if you added some lemon juice or vinegar to it. ~Elise

  5. lore

    Any hints on making ahead and baking later. I have a truckload of family that will be coming back to my house after a show — will have soup waiting in crockpot — would love to pop this bread into the oven as soon as I get home to have warm bread to accompany the soup.
    Thanks for a raisin-less spin on soda bread!

    You definitely do not want to make the dough and let it sit. Otherwise all of the leavening will happen while it’s sitting and be deflated by the time you cook it. So I would just get the ingredients ready, the dry ingredients mixed, the butter on the counter so it comes to room temp. It comes together quickly. Either that or make the loaf ahead of time and warm it in the microwave if it has cooled down too much by the time you get back. ~Elise

  6. Liz

    I am going to try to make this recipe for my vegan husband with Earth Balance in place of butter and soy yogurt, soy milk, and vinegar (following the no buttermilk replacement directions) in place of the buttermilk. I also may use some whole wheat pastry flour to healthy it up a bit.I will let you know how it comes out.

  7. Cindy

    As soon as I saw this recipe I HAD to try it and it IS as good as you say it is !!! It came out of the oven crusty brown and smelling awesome !!
    I’m used to making sour dough bread, yeast rolls and cinnamon rolls that have to be kneaded and kneaded…this was really fast bread and so delicious !! Can’t wait until I can get some Pastrami & Pepper Jack Cheese to slap between this bread…it tastes just like rye bread only a lot faster to make !!!

  8. Gaelle

    Good timing, I have buttermilk and I did not really know what to do with it. Besides, I am intrigued because I don’t think I ever had Soda Bread before.

    Hi Gaelle, soda bread is like one huge buttermilk biscuit. I hope you like it! ~Elise

  9. Andrea @ Fork Fingers Chopsticks

    Went to an Irish baking class last week and had fresh soda bread. Delicious compared to what you find in the stores and even some bakeries.

    FYI, the teacher who attended culinary school in Ireland said that the Irish cut the cross in the dough before baking to “let the fairies out.” Which, in actuality, helps the bread rise.

  10. Ingrid

    Maria, as far as I know you can usually make the following substitions:
    – soy milk for milk,
    – soy milk that you allow to curdle for a while with some (apple cider) vinegar for buttermilk (say one tbsp vinegar per cup of milk)
    – soy yoghurt for yoghurt.

    There’s also the option of using rice, oat or almond milk instead of soy milk. Butter can be replaced with either vegetable-based margarine or sometimes canola oil (if you need it melted, for instance). I’ve baked with all of the above to everyone’s satisfaction – in fact, I am very sure nobody ever noticed unless I told them :-)

  11. Greg

    I don’t think my kids would like the flavor of the caraway seeds but would love to help make some soda bread. Any suggestions on a substitute or maybe just leave the seeds out all together?

    Sure, you can skip the caraway seeds. Or substitute with something else, like raisins, sunflower seeds, etc. ~Elise

  12. Eli

    I used rosemary instead of caraway, and it turned out Wonderful! This is destined to become a staple in our house as it can be made on a week night. Another step in my crusade to never buy bread again, Thanks!

  13. ana

    Can I use fennel seed instead of caraway?

    I don’t see why not. ~Elise

  14. Paula

    I’m looking forward to making this, primarily because it calls for some butter. For years I’ve been trying to be enthusiastic about a friend’s annual gift of Irish Soda Bread, but it so reminds me of wallboard (I would NEVER tell her that!) that it’s been hard to appreciate it. I decided to go on a search for a better recipe. I found one – it’s from Brother Rick Curry in his cookbook titled The Secrets of Jesuit Bread Making. Fantastic recipe! It includes both butter and an egg, both of which add to the tenderness factor but may not be traditional. Who cares – no one would say it resembles wallboard in any way! I’ll be making this recipe to see how it stacks up. When it works, soda bread (Irish or not)is a wonderful thing. Thanks, Elise.

    Hi Paula, you might also want to check out the Irish soda bread recipe here on the site that includes both butter and egg (and raisins, but you can skip the raisins if you want). ~Elise

  15. Cindy Rowland

    I say this with love…I can’t stop thinking about how much this tasty looking bread looks like a brain. Might be fun around Halloween with some butter dyed red or something. Perhaps I’m just hallucinating.

    You are totally not hallucinating. I’ve been thinking the same thing, about the dough that is, not the cooked bread. :-) ~Elise

  16. Deb Madaras

    This was a terrific “quick bread”. I usually make traditional breads with yeast or starter, but today I decided to make lasagna at the last minute and thought some fresh bread would be nice. I made this one but substituted oregano and basil for the caraway and dumped a tablespoon of garlic in the buttermilk. It was really nice. I’ll stick with my regular breads (yeast and kneading), but for something quick, I think you could add about anything to this and come up with a great substitute.

  17. Kelly Lenihan

    We served this bread fresh from the oven many a weekend morning when I was a child, although we called it “lump bread”. My mom baked it in a buttered iron skillet and ran some butter across the top the moment it was removed from the oven. I have found this bread to be an excellent base for a long list of variations, both sweet and savory. Instead of caraway seeds, following are some of my favorites:
    fresh cranberries
    dates and pecans
    currents or raisins (leave in the caraway)
    green chiles and cheddar cheese
    Parmesan cheese, Italian herbs and sun dried tomatoes

  18. Emily

    Elise,
    Thanks for all of the awesome recipes. My boyfriend and I had a couple friends over last night. He prepared your corned beef recipe (the baked version… yummy!), and I made two loaves of this bread. I wasn’t quite sure that the texture of mine was right (as I was expecting something a little fluffier), but as it came out dense, moist, and delicious, I wasn’t overly concerned.

    Kelly,
    I was pondering what I could substitute for the caraway seeds (not that I don’t like them… just to experiment!). Thanks for all of the great suggestions.

    Hi Emily – Density might have come from over-mixing, something to keep in mind. You really must have a light touch with these, just mixing (by hand) enough for there to be no more dry bits of flour. It should look very shaggy, not at all like typical yeast bread dough. ~Elise

  19. Jackie

    I made this Friday evening (the day it was posted here) to go along with the Cream of Spinach soup I was making, also from this site. I did sub fennel for caraway, as I thought that would better compliment the soup. Both were wonderful! This came together very quickly, and the aroma was heavenly. Thanks again, Elise!

  20. Jay

    Would using some rye flour in this recipe be out of the question?

    No idea. If you try it, please let us know how it turns out. ~Elise

  21. Darlene

    I made this bread exactly as described and it was very delicious! Only comment: recipe says to score the top of the dough 1 1/2 inches in a cross. Comparing my finished product to the photo, I think 1 1/2 inch scoring is too deep. That depth splayed out the bread top too much in my opinion. Still, fantastic taste. Recipe is a keeper! Thank you!

  22. Laura

    @Maria, Liz, Linda, and Ingrid re lactose-free:
    I just made soda bread using white whole wheat flour, agave syrup, safflower oil, and soy milk (curdled with a bit of cider vinegar). I made other batches (same recipe) using buttermilk. The results were excellent with buttermilk and with soy milk alike. I could not tell the difference between the lactose free and non lactose free versions.

    Of course, I added in currants, candied orange rind, and candied ginger. These add-ins, plus the whole wheat itself add so much flavor. Although my plain loaf without the add-ins was good, too.

  23. CP

    Great bread, thanks for the recipe. The only hard part was trying to explain to my 5 year old why it doesn’t taste like soda pop.

  24. Karen

    I made this bread this morning and it turned out WONDERFUL. So easy to make, and my four year old got to help prepare an Irish treat for St. Pat’s day! I am not crazy about the caraway seeds, but I already knew that, so I think next time I make it I might try the raisins or cranberries someone posted about. But definitely a delicious, easy bread to make. Thank you so much for the recipe!

  25. Jenny

    Made this tonight to go with corned beef for St. Patrick’s Day and it was great. Was a little worried that the kids wouldn’t love the caraway but they did! Will definitely make again – thanks!

  26. Vicky LaVoie

    Thanks for posting this awesome recipe. I made it earlier this week and everyone who tried it is raving about it. I’m going to make some for a St. Patty’s Day potluck tomorrow to accompany Beef and Guinness Stew served with Guinness butter. I can’t wait to hear everyone’s reviews. Thanks again!

  27. Kits

    HI guys;
    I used milk and yogurt for the batter. I used jalapenos’ mixed vinegar instead of white vinegar which I didn’t have. Also you can try 1/2 Tspn of Baking powder and 1/2 Tspn of Baking Soda. I didn’t have lot of Caraway seeds so used 1Tblspoon of Cumin seeds. Do not use 2 Tblspoon Cumin seeds, the bread will have very strong smell of the herb. Overall amazing recipe and very very easy. Enjoy baking it and the shock the people around you :)

  28. Tony Parmeggiani

    I made this bread last week and I substituted some Rosemary for the Caraway, kinda like a focaccia. Next time some rasins or crasins or dried cherrys.

  29. Jenn

    The soda bread is awesome! Enjoying it now with some butter and cherry jam. Thanks! I think one loaf would be enough for 8 people as a side for dinner. Biscuits are nice, but this is so much easier, and not so buttery.

  30. Amber Green

    Thank you for the inspiration for this recipe. Because I’m a vegan, I swapped the buttermilk to soya yogurt, and it worked a treat! Absolutely delicious and very moreish ;). Thanks, Amber.

  31. Josephine Geraghty

    Your recipe states 3.5 cups flour = 1 lb. There are l6 oz. in a pound and a cup is 8.oz. Therefore total is 28 oz, – almost 2 lb.

    • Elise

      Hello Josephine, you are correct regarding liquid weight conversions, but not dry weight. There are a lot of air molecules between those tiny bits of flour. A cup of flour weighs less than a cup of water (or butter).

Post a comment

Your comment may need to be approved before it will appear on the site. Thanks for waiting. First time commenting? Please review the Comment Policy.

Some HTML is OK. URLs are automatically converted to links. Line breaks are automatically converted to paragraphs. The following HTML tags are allowed: a, abbr, acronym, b, blockquote, cite, code, del, em, i, q, strike, strong