Irish Soda Bread

Around ten years ago I took a vacation in Ireland, spending days driving in and around Western Ireland. I still have vivid memories of bright green hills, muddy bogs, sheep with the scariest eyes, massive downpours, happy raucous pubs, learning to sing Dona Nobis Pachem in round, the freshest cream imaginable, and heavenly Irish bread that seemed to accompany almost every meal.

It appears everyone has their favorite Irish soda bread recipe. Some with caraway seeds, some with raisins, some with both, some with neither. The essential ingredients in a traditional Irish soda bread are flour, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk. The acid in buttermilk reacts with the base of the baking soda to provide the bread’s leavening. This soda bread is a slightly fancied up version of the Irish classic, with a little butter, sugar, an egg, and some currants or raisins added to the base. Note that soda bread dries out quickly so is only good for a day or two. It is best eaten freshly baked and warm or toasted.

Irish Soda Bread Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: Makes one loaf.

Ingredients

  • 4 to 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup currants or raisins
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 3/4 cups buttermilk

Method

1 Preheat oven to 425°. Whisk together 4 cups of flour, the sugar, salt, and baking soda into a large mixing bowl.

2 Using your (clean) fingers (or two knives or a pastry cutter), work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal, then add in the currants or raisins.

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3 Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add beaten egg and buttermilk to well and mix in with a wooden spoon until dough is too stiff to stir. Dust hands with a little flour, then gently knead dough in the bowl just long enough to form a rough ball. If the dough is too sticky to work with, add in a little more flour. Do not over-knead! Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a round loaf. Note that the dough will be a little sticky, and quite shaggy (a little like a shortcake biscuit dough). You want to work it just enough so that the flour is just moistened and the dough just barely comes together. Shaggy is good. If you over-knead, the bread will end up tough.

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4 Transfer dough to a large, lightly greased cast-iron skillet or a baking sheet (it will flatten out a bit in the pan or on the baking sheet). Using a serrated knife, score top of dough about an inch and a half deep in an "X" shape. The purpose of the scoring is to help heat get into the center of the dough while it cooks. Transfer to oven and bake until bread is golden and bottom sounds hollow when tapped, about 35-45 minutes. (If you use a cast iron pan, it may take a little longer as it takes longer for the pan to heat up than a baking sheet.) Check for doneness also by inserting a long, thin skewer into the center. If it comes out clean, it's done.

Hint 1: If the top is getting too dark while baking, tent the bread with some aluminum foil.

Hint 2: If you use a cast iron skillet to cook the bread in the oven, be very careful when you take the pan out. It's easy to forget that the handle is extremely hot. Cool the handle with an ice cube, or put a pot holder over it.

Remove pan or sheet from oven, let bread sit in the pan or on the sheet for 5-10 minutes, then remove to a rack to cool briefly. Serve bread warm, at room temperature, or sliced and toasted. Best when eaten warm and just baked.

Adapted from Saveur Magazine.

Links:
Irish soda bread muffins from Recipe Girl
Seeded Orange Soda Bread from Cook (almost) Anything Once
Irish Mum's Brown Bread from Heidi of 101 Cookbooks
Mom's Secret Stash: Irish Soda Bread from Belly Timber
Gluten-free Gypsy Soda Bread by Karina, Gluten-free Goddess
Agnes O'Sullivan's Brown Bread with travelog from Tea of Tea & Cookies
Gluten-free Irish Soda Bread from Gluten-free Girl
Blasphemous Bread from Deb of Smitten Kitchen
Wikipedia on Soda Bread
What?! Nothing Irish about Irish soda bread? - an Epicurious interview with chef and teacher Rory O'Connell

84 Comments

  1. kris

    Hi Elise,

    First, let me say that I love your blog.

    I would love to try this bread, but where I live buttermilk is quite hard to find. any suggestions for a good substitute? I don’t like substituting ingredients but in cases like this, I have no choice.

    Thanks a lot!

  2. Renee

    Because of the sugar, eggs and raisins this is more of a cake than a soda bread. My granda used to make simply a bread and it was something they made almost daily for meal, not sweet at all – flour, salt, soda, sour milk.

  3. Peggasus

    Kris, if I don’t have buttermilk I use an old trick my mother taught me: add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to a cup of milk and let it sit for a few minutes. Instant buttermilk! It works great in recipes.

    And because I can’t usually use a carton of butttermilk before it goes bad, I found a dry, cultured buttermilk powder in the baking aisle of the grocery store that can be added to recipes. The brand name is SaCo, and it’s one of those things that’s usually on the bottom shelves.

  4. jspin77

    My 100% Irish wife will tell you that this is certainly not Irish Soda Bread. However, this is pretty close to what she makes and calls soda bread. She has no problem with the fact that it is not traditional. However, when she makes it for her off-the-boat irish, they all ask her for her “cake”.

    By definition, this recipe is cake, hence the sugar and eggs. However, once you move past that fact, people LOVE this stuff.

    Traditional soda bread looks terrible to me!

  5. Chris

    Whenever I have a recipe that calls for buttermilk, I substitute the same amount of regular milk but with vinegar or lemon juice added (roughly 1 tablespoon of per cup of milk, I think). Let that mixture sit on the counter for a few minutes until it starts to get a bit lumpy on top, then it’s ready to use.

  6. Wynne

    If your store doesn’t sell fresh buttermilk, you can buy buttermilk powder. It may be in the baking aisle, or you can buy it online.

  7. yiotula Shilland

    I got this from http://www.ochef.com

    To make pretend buttermilk, add 1-3/4 tablespoons of cream of tartar to a cup of milk, or add a tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to a cup of milk and let it stand for 5 to 10 minutes. In many baking recipes, you can also just use plain yogurt or sour cream instead of buttermilk.

    We made Irish food this month for a party and I was surprised at how good and easy it all was. The bread was delicious and we made it plain without raisins or carraway. So simple to no rising and virtually no kneading.

  8. Rebecca

    Hi, Elise – I needed you last night, when I made my big St. Paddy’s day dinner, a couple days early, I know, http://technically.us/eat/articles/2007/03/15/mom-make-a-st-patricks-day-dinner. I used the soda bread recipe from the Fannie Farmer baking book and it’s very similar to yours but almost 1/2 cup less buttermilk. (And BTW, I mixed plain yogurt with a bit of milk to thin it as a substitute for buttermilk, for Kris) Your bread looks better and would have to be moister.

    I think soda bread is like corn bread, with the devotees swearing by no sweetener vs. a little sugar is okay. I’m sure those Irish who could afford sugar would have put a little sugar in it!

  9. Stephanie

    From my one and only trip to Ireland aeons ago, I remember the soda bread too…mostly served with brilliant chowders/fish soups… lots of salmon and trout in those soups if I recall… as the mornings start to get crisper here in Australia, I may just have to think about a good chowder recipe to go with your soda bread………

  10. Robin

    Hey Elise, What are your thoughts on Pasteurized eggs?
    I bought some last week because I mistakenly thought the Eggsland Best I had been buying used antibiotics (I was wrong, they in fact do not use antibiotics). Well last week using these new eggs, I made coconut macaroon (no flour) and then just my favorite package of brownie mix (White Lily Chewy Fudge) and both recipes fell flat in texture, height and flavor. What is your experience? Thanks.

    Hi Robin – I personally have no thoughts on pasteurized eggs because I have never used them. Don’t know why you would use them in a recipe in which the eggs get cooked. The cooking kills any of the bacteria and sort of defeats the purpose of using pasteurized eggs. I do know people who use them as substitutes for regular eggs in dishes in which the eggs are not cooked, but I don’t know how well they work. ~Elise

  11. Crissy

    This was a wonderful addition to our big Irish breakfast this morning. We substituted currants for the raisins, and added a bit of orange zest. Not quite traditional Irish, but delicious, for sure.

    I’ve tried many of your recipes, Elise, and they have all been well received by my family. Now, when we’re looking for something special, my two sons suggest an internet stop at Simply Recipes.

  12. suzy

    I just made this soda bread and the dough was really sticky. Is that expected? I had to bake it longer than suggested, but it was a big success with its audience. In fact, I had to snatch half of it away from him (for the freezer for another day) just to save him from himself.

    Yes, the dough will be rather sticky and shaggy. ~Elise

  13. Karina

    Hi Elise!

    Your soda bread looks absolutely gorgeous. I love that you cooked it in a skillet. Thanks so much for the link. :-) I appreciate it. Luckily, soda bread translates easily to gluten-free.

  14. Rick Bell

    I just finished Sunday dinner. We did St. Patrick’s Day a day late as we were in Mexico the day of. The soda bread was a big hit! But as was previously mentioned, we did have to go long on the cooking time. It looked done at 35 minutes but needed about 8 minutes more so that the center of the thickest part wasn’t doughy.

  15. Tony

    I tried this recipie and took it to a corned beef and cabbage dinner Saturday night. Everyone loved it. However, it didn’t get cooked in the center…it was still raw dough in there, but the outside was dark brown. I used a convection oven and I think that may have been the problem. Any suggestions?

    BTW, I make two loaves, one with raisins and one with caraway. I loved ‘em both!

  16. Elise

    Hi Tony,

    Based on your and other comments, I’ve adjusted the recipe to say, do a skewer insertion test, as if you were baking a cake. Regarding convection. Typically when you use a convection oven, or the convection setting of an oven, you need to lower the temperature by about 25 degrees, and decrease the cooking time by a fifth.

    If you notice that the bread is already nicely browned, halfway through the cooking, tent the bread with some aluminum foil. That will deflect the hottest heat from the top, keeping it from burning.

  17. Kim

    I made this recipe on Saturday, St. Patrick’s day. I had great trust, as I usually don’t try new recipes for company! It was the best soda bread I’ve ever made. It had just the right amount of tender and chew, and reminded me of childhood bread from the bakery. The only difference (and I think this is because it was fresh from the oven) is that the crust was too crisp for my memory. But overall, crisp crust I think is better! The dough was very sticky and hard to slash, so I did get a big crack. I also added a handful (about a tablespoon?) of caraway seeds. Yum!

  18. Kelly

    Hi Elise,

    I made the soda bread last night with my husband’s help. The dough was pretty wet and sticky and required some extra flour. We substituted raisins with chocolate chips and it turned out great. My husband said he will eat it for lunch and dinner tomorrow so he can finish it before it gets dry. Thanks for the great receipe.

    Kelly

  19. Melissa

    Well, I am not a “cook” or “chef” by any means. My Nana, Celia Shea made the BEST Irish Bread around ever! No caraway seeds allowed. After several attempts through the years, I have tried to make the very same delicious bread. I think I succeeded once, but that was probably beginners luck. Now, in my late 20′s I have finally found a website that actually tells me (with wonderful pictures and instructions) how to make my Nana’s Irish Bread. I just made it..and it is great..THANKS!

  20. Monisha

    Hi Elise,

    Thank you for this recipe. I saw an Irish Soda Bread on a old Julia Child show, and I have been unable to find a recipe that just uses baking soda until now. I do have one quick question. Can you substitute 4 cups of flour with, 4 cups whole wheat flour?

    Traditional Irish brown soda bread is made with whole-meal four. I have no idea if the substitution would work with this recipe, you might try looking for another recipe online for “brown soda bread”. ~Elise

  21. Eileen

    regarding Irish soda bread, the true recipe calls only for baking soda,buttermilk, a tiny amount of sugar and flour,no eggs nor butter, soda farls(quarters of the dough) are made on a griddle and soda bread (known as bannock) is baked in the oven. Adding two tablespoons of treacle(dark molasses)and less buttermilk to this recipe gives a delicious flavour. Anyone who lives near a costco store will find Odlums ready mix flours for all kinds of Irish bread. My friends in NJ and Utah have become Irish bread makers using this product. Using wholemeal flour gives you Irish wheaten bread. Here in Northern Ireland we use soda bread for the ulster breakfast of bacon,sausage,egg,potato bread and soda bread.

  22. Mikaela Miller

    I had to make this for a heritage project because I am Irish. I shared it with my classmates & everyone loved it!! I have never had soda bread before and I though it was wonderful.

  23. Mar

    Last St. Patty’s Day I made this, although I didn’t have any raisins, so I used dried cherries instead, and it was FABULOUS. I highly suggest it.

  24. N. & J.

    I never had Irish Soda bread until today when it was one of the free samples at the grocery store and now I’m in love. I’m estatic to find out that it involves buttermilk since we make our own butter from heavy cream and we are constantly searching for new recipes in which to use the buttermilk.

  25. Jan Andrews

    I was very careful to follow the instructions for soda bread from your website. The dough was so sticky that I had to add a lot of flour – possibly 1/2 cup. I cooked it 35 minutes and it looked done. The bottom sounded hollow, and the top was lightly brown. I stuck a skewer in it, and it tested done. I let it cool, but when I cut into it, it was uncooked in the middle. What do you suppose I did wrong? Any suggestions? Jan

    Hi Jan, every oven is different, so for yours it may just take a little longer to cook it through. ~Elise

  26. Katie Fairbank

    I do so love this scone-like soda bread. This year, however, I’ve procured some traditional wholemeal flour from an Irish foods website and am thrilled with the results. I cut the traditional cross, dusted it with a shake of wholemeal flour and used a peel to slide it onto my pizza stone. It has an rich, authentic flavor that would be impossible to achieve with American flour.

  27. Nikki

    Dear me, Elise, you’ve done it again! LOVE it!!

    After the success of your Shrimp beurre d’orange and your wild mushroom soup, I have a request:

    Elise, please teach me how to make tabouleh! I will only trust it if it’s from you! :D

    - your biggest fan.

  28. Paula

    After tasting a friend’s Irish Soda Bread the other day, which was pretty good, I was determined to come up with a recipe that didn’t taste like “wallboard with raisins” (comment from an another food blog which reflected my own feelings about this dense little bread perfectly). A brief web search turned up a recipe from Brother Rick Curry that was published in The Secrets of Jesuit Breadmaking. It uncharacteristically included 8 Tbs. of butter (recipe made (2) 9 x 5 loaves–5 cups flour) along with the usual buttermilk, baking soda, etc. I mascerated the raisins (and a few dried cranberries) in Irish whiskey (why not?), cut back on the 3 Tbs. caraway seeds (we don’t like them all that much) and voila! tender,tasty, loaves of Irish Soda Bread at last. After many years of not liking it, I’ve discovered as noted in Elise’s recipe and comments from others, that it’s a very adaptable recipe. Have fun with it and enjoy the results!

  29. SarahLa

    I made this last night with cranberries and it was AWESOME. Thanks!

  30. katy

    This looks great — and a little lighter than many quickbread recipes, I think! I’m intrigued by the idea of baking the bread in a skillet — is it to help with the shape, or does it have an impact on the flavor?

    Hi Katy, I think not only is it easy, but also that the cast iron help moderate the heat in the oven for more even heating. I have some old cast iron muffin pans which make beautiful muffins for the same reason. ~Elise

  31. YooperGal

    Hey yas! I am currently making this bread and…..I think this recipe calls for too much milk. My dough was so soupy. I ended up adding more flour, sugar and soda. Other recipes I’ve found only call for 1 cup of milk. Other than that, I am hoping the bread turns out good.

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!!!!!

  32. Jen

    Irish Soda Bread is just not Irish Soda Bread without caraway seeds. Otherwise your bread will be missing that certain flavor that really makes it taste authentic.

  33. Liam

    Happy St Patrick’s Day!
    All my friends are being boring and won’t go out to get drunk, so I’m staying in and looking for recipes.

    This is very different to the soda bread we have here in Ireland. When I was much younger, I think around 8, we made soda bread in school once. It was basically just 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of buttermilk 1tsp baking soda and 1tsp salt (so basic I still remember it). The whole thing was mixed together (BY HAND) and rolled into a flat circle. The circle is then qartered. Each quarter is what is known here as a farl. We cooked them on plates which are kind of like skillets, but were completely flat. I can’t remember what they were actually called. Then at the end each farl was wrapped in what we call a tea towel for a few minutes (that cloth you dry your dishes with). It makes them taste better. Finally they’re dusted lightly with more flour.

    Farls are rarely (if ever) eaten “whole” or raw. They’re generally always cut into two slices and then toasted. Soda farls are great with a proper Irish fry, lots of bacon, sausages, eggs (yuck), baked beans, grilled tomato and white pudding.

    Try some!

  34. ann dossett

    This was the easiest recipe for bread I have ever made. I stirred it up while I was cooking breakfast and it baked while I ate and got dressed.
    Every one really liked it. I will use raisins next time. Thanks a lot.

  35. ann dossett

    Comment to kris use 1 part milk and 1 part sourcream (1 cup of each)

  36. Jeanine

    Made this for St. Patrick’s day–I thought I followed the measurements well, but the dough was really wet and sticky! I must have added almost another whole cup of flour trying to work with it before it was able to hold a shape. It also took about a half-hour longer in the oven before a knife came out clean.

    Hi Jeanine – so many things can affect the mixture, how you measure a cup of flour, the particular flour you are using, the weather (if it’s a humid day), etc. Based on your input and those of others, I’ve adjusted the recipe to indicate upfront that you may need more than 4 cups of flour. The timing too, depends a lot on the shape of the bread, how thick it is, and your particular oven. ~Elise

  37. C.Hackett

    While your recipe looks good – our favorite is quite a bit different. The texture and ‘bite’ is so light! I always put in the caraway seeds and alternate between currents and raisins. The batch that I made this weekend was with the golden raisins and they were WONDERFUL!

    Note – we bake ours in muffin tins.

    Irish Rosie’s Irish Soda Bread by 1Steve posted on Feb 25, 2002 via Recipezaar.com

    3 1/2 c flour
    1/2 c sugar
    1/2 t baking soda
    2 t baking powder
    1 t salt
    1 pint sour cream
    2 eggs
    2 T caraway seeds
    3/4 c raisins

    1. Combine dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
    2. In a small bowl beat eggs and stir in sour cream.
    3. Add the egg and sour cream mixture to the dry ingredients and
    stir with a wooden spoon.
    4. Batter will be very thick.
    5. Add the raisins and caraway seeds and stir well with wooden
    spoon or knead in with your hands.
    6. Place batter in a greased 9 inch springform pan (or muffin tins).
    7. Dust the top with enough flour so that you can pat the batter
    like a bread dough evenly in the pan without it sticking to your
    hands.
    8. With a knife make a shallow crisscross on the top.
    9. Bake for 50 minutes in a preheated 350ºF oven (Or approximately 15-18 minutes if baked in muffin tins).

  38. Eat at the Table

    Yum! Happy Saint Patrick’s Day one day late – I just tried Irish Soda Bread for the first time (no raisins, though, thank you!) on Sunday, and it was a huge success! My ingredients were pretty different though – whole wheat flour with the all-purpose flour, and much less sugar. It was very easy and quite tasty!

  39. Linda

    Hi Elise,

    I made Irish soda bread as a senior in high school for my English class. Reading your recipe and blog brought back memories.
    As I have said before what one the best reasons to read your blog is the easy to use recipes.
    Please forgive us all for tweeking your recipes okay.

    Linda in Washington State

    P.S. Its resurrection pecan meringue cookie time!

    Hi Linda, indeed it is time for that cookie. I’ll have to pull it forward. I think it is absolutely marvelous that people tweek the recipes and make them their own. That’s what I do! In fact, I’m constantly editing the recipes on this site. The more I make them, the more I try to perfect them. Recipes are just guidelines anyway. Best to start with them and then explore from them. :-) ~Elise

  40. Dianne

    Made this recipe this morning and my fiancé absolutely loved it — just like he remembers having for breakfast growing up. And so easy to bake! Won’t have to worry about it drying out as it is getting eaten so fast. Thanks for this keeper of a recipe.

  41. Anna Lee

    Made this for my 86 yr old aunt who’s very particular, & thumbs-up from her! PS Had to add more flour, as well.

  42. carrie m

    I made this bread tonight with my beef stew. I removed the raisins, and added a tablespoon of crushed dried rosemary. Cooked it as directed and it came out perfect!

    Thanks

  43. taratrick

    Making this bread right now & the dough was very sticky. I added ½ cup more flour but it was still impossible to handle. Had no way to form it into a ball so I dumped it into a traditional bread pan; someone else mentioned increasing the salt & soda as an addition to adding more flour, but I’m not that advanced as a baker to know how much or when. I’ve lowered the baking temperature & will bake it for longer to make sure it is evenly done. I hope it turns out well because it’s taken longer to make than I expected & been a lot more stressful. 30 minutes to go before I check the oven … wish me luck!

  44. Jenny

    I broke the dough into two balls and baked on a cookie sheet. This worked out perfectly! They also made great gifts for St. Patrick’s Day! Great recipe! Thanks! Jenny

  45. Frank Woelke

    Hi,

    Thank you so much for this neat recipe. I love Raisin Bread but it costs me to much in the store so I decided to try this recipe. I have never made bread before in my life, other than bisquits, so I was amazed how easy it was. The Bread came out absolutely perfect. I have since then stocked up on Buttermilk and raisins and I make it every week.
    Great recipe, quick, easy, and delicious.

    Thanks,
    Frank Woelke

  46. Jaime

    I can’t believe that from start to finish this took a mere 40 minutes! It is incredibly moist and has a crunchy crust. I substituted dried cranberries, which were nice and tart. I loved eating this bread with chestnut honey and butter. I also loved it topped with fig spread and aged gruyere cheese. Thanks for a great foolproof recipe!

  47. Anna

    I usually use a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar and enough milk to make a cup (whole would be best, but other kinds will work), let that sit for at least five minutes, that usually works pretty well for me. It’s good with dried cranberries too.

  48. D

    I made this recipe today and end up using 4-1/2 cups 100% white whole-wheat flour. I baked it on a lightly greased cast iron skillet. It turned out perfect. I prefer the Irish Soda Bread sweeter so the next time, I will add 1/2 cup sugar instead of 2 tablespoons. Thanks for posting this recipe.

  49. Deidre

    My grandmother’s maiden name was Fitzgerald, and we don’t have to go too far back to find the ancestors that came over to America. I have also been to Ireland and had “real” Irish soda bread. My grandmother makes both this and the brown kind (using a mix of wheat and white flour), and the general conclusion is that the brown is better. The places where I had Irish bread in Ireland were in small towns with family-owned restaurants. They also served the brown kind. Each one was a little different, but none were white with raisins in them.

    As others have said, if you’re having trouble with the dough sticking or too soupy, you have to adjust for your humidity (and sometimes elevation). In Arizona, we can almost always use the quoted amount of buttermilk because it’s so dry outside. When it’s more humid, use less. It might take a few tries, but if you’re a good cook, you can tell by the feel if it’s a little too much or too little, and add by feel. If you end up with too much buttermilk, add a little more flour.

  50. Karly

    Would I be able to substitute the raisins for chocolate chips?

    Why not? I would say go for it. ~Elise

  51. heather

    I am not much of a cook, but these directions were easy to follow, and the pictures really helped. The bread has been cooling for about 10 minutes and I just had a slice; it is absolutely delicious. Thanks!

  52. Gregory Kenedy

    Made this bread the other day and it was fantastic. I love cast iron cooking and this was the perfect recipe for one. Thanks.

  53. ajane2

    My Irish Nana used to make this exact bread almost everyday.
    The recipe is perfect…and just delicious.
    My Mum went back a few years ago and brought an Irish Bread recipe book this exact recipe is in it and I was soooo excited as she passed away in 84 and it brought back so many wonderful memories.
    It was the exact same…

  54. Jenna

    I made this recipe yesterday and had the same issues as some of the others have had with the dough being too sticky. I too added more flour, at least a cup, managed to get it into a ball and cooked it at 425 on a cast iron skillet for 55 minutes. After 55 minutes it was not fully cooked, so I tented it with foil and placed it back into the oven for an additional 35 minutes.

    In the end I felt the bottom was over cooked (meaning a very hard crust making it difficult to slice through with a bread knife and the texture of the bread itself was more dense than I was expecting.
    Although it tasted and smelled fantastic I was expecting it to be more light in texture.

    Would it have helped to add less buttermilk and more baking soda in this case?
    And how would have using 1 tsp. of baking powder made a difference or not?

    I am a novice baker and determined to get it right- your advice would be most helpful.

    Hi Jenna, I just made this bread again yesterday and I think I know the problem. You should not have had to add a whole additional cup of flour. My guess is this, along with overkneading, and overcooking, caused the bread to be rather dense with a hard bottom. The dough should have a rather sticky and barely held together shaggy feel and appearance, much like you were making a shortbread biscuit. You should handle it only enough to have it come together. The more you handle the dough, the more tough the result will be. It should flatten out a bit when you put it in the cast iron pan. When you remove the bread from the oven, let it sit in the cast iron pan for 5-10 minutes or so before removing it to a rack. ~Elise

  55. athina

    Elise, I really think this recipe requires at least 5 cups of flour.This dough was very, very sticky, and very difficult to handle.I also think it could use 1 1/2 tsp salt, and slightly more sugar.I found it to have a strong buttermilk flavor,(which I like) and my loaf came out quite moist, and a bit dense (as it should be) Overall a nice simple recipe, just needs more flour…

    I just made this again and used 4 1/4 cups of flour, measuring the cups out so that the flour was lightly scooped into the cups and then leveled. That and I floured my hands and dusted the kneading area with flour. So, I am pretty confident that no more flour should be needed than what is called for in the recipe. The dough will be sticky, and shaggy. One does not knead it the way one would knead a yeast dough, but just enough to bring it together. That said, there are other variables, not the least of which is the brand of flour, or even the humidity. So you may need to make adjustments to suit your taste and ingredients. ~Elise

  56. Tava

    This was an amazing recipe! It lasted less than a day in my house. Without a doubt, I will be making this again and again.

  57. Cathy J.

    I just attempted your Irish Soda bread recipe and it ended up in the trash. I found that it was impossible to form into a ball, let alone knead due to the gummy consistency. I tried adding more flour as suggested, but after adding approximately another whole cup of flour (in small increments) it still was impossible. I need to mention that I did not add caraway or raisins to the dough, if that would make a difference. What went wrong? I am positive that I used the exact measurements in the recipe. Cathy

  58. Frank woelke

    Hi Elise,

    I remember when this recipe first came on to your site. I have been making it ever since and have enjoyed it every time I did. The other day I chopped up some dried apricots I had and added them in with the raisens. This came out great and makes another variation that some of your readers may enjoy.

    Thanks for the great recipes,
    Frank Woelke

  59. Lester

    Hello, Elise:

    I have a suggestion that might be of help to your readers with complaints about the stickiness of the dough: Rake the dough into a covered cast-iron Dutch oven, and bake it without ever touching it.

    I have baked at least 100 loaves of traditional four-ingredient Irish soda bread. After experimenting which no-knead yeast bread (which is baked in a covered Dutch oven), I discovered that I could only consistently make great Irish soda bread, if I baked it the same way.

    Regarding size, I use a two-quart Dutch oven for three-cup recipes, and a three-quart Dutch oven (actually a chicken fryer) for 4.5-cup recipes. If you match the size of the pot to your loaf, then no kneading or shaping of the dough is necessary. Note: Evidence suggests that the Irish traditionally baked soda bread either in a covered cast-iron pot (for loaves) or on an iron griddle (for farl). Try it!

    Great idea Lester, thank you! ~Elise

  60. Linda

    I made this bread tonight and it is delicious. My dough was also very sticky, but that was to be expected from what Elise said in the recipe and all the other comments. I baked it in a Le Creuset 9-inch cast iron skillet and it came out perfect. I agree with Lester that it does not need much kneading, and that mixing and dumping into the skillet is a very good idea, then smoothing over the top and slashing a criss-cross. I ended up adding another 1/2 cup flour, no more, so total of 4-1/2. A great recipe. I’m having a slice now with a “cuppa”. Will toast it for breakfast in the morning. Thanks, Elise!

  61. Cat

    Elise,

    AWESOME recipe. I made the soda bread last night for community dinner. I contemplated calling you for some advice, but somehow I pulled it all off and everyone loved it!

    Happy Holidays!

    Cat

    So glad you liked it Cat! ~Elise

  62. Flyingfish

    Dear Elise,

    I made this recipe this afternoon while I was watching football and cooking a corned beef, cabbage and potatoe dinner. It’s the first time I’ve ever tried to make a bread other than Pillsbury Grands. Your instructions were right on the money and the bread is just great. My daughter loves short bread so I’ll make her some next time I visit her.

    Thank you for a really tasty addition to my mundane suppers

    Mark
    Baltimore, MD

  63. conor maguire

    Great site–even though I was not looking for anything regarding soda bread. As it happens I decided to read the recipe and some comments. I am first generation off the boat(ok, plane) and my grandmother and mother taught me how to make the bread 20 years ago when I was in college. They both grew up 2 miles from the Odlums flour factory and so knew a bit about soda bread. This recipe here is very traditional for the “cake” and raisin variety. Take away the sugar and raisins and you move towards brown bread. I say “towards” because for the best you can get in America you need the Wholemeal flour. Impossible to get here–expensive to order from Odlums–except that now King Arthur sells 3 lb bags of their own wholemeal flour. It is VERY close in all aspects. It tastes nutty and is very course. If you are not used to it then make it with 3 cups wholemeal and one cup white. Order a couple of bags(5 bucks each) as the shipping cost is the same for 1 or 5 bags. When you use that to cook then you may develop a slight Irish accent. Also, if you like a rounder loaf then poke fork holes down in about 6 or 8 places on the top of the loaf. the wet loaf just before it goes in the oven. That is the way my nana did it. After it is done then cool for 15 minutes on a rack and place the bread a in a tea towel. Slightly dampen the tea towel–just a few drops all around–if the bottom of the bread is too hard. That will moisten it and make the cutting easier the next day. You need a proper bread knife to cut this bread and if the outside is too crmbly then the tea towel trick usually works. Serve toasted with butter and be thankful for jam. That was a once per month treat for my relatives and I try to remember that to this day. Enjoy!

  64. Kathleen Hallgren

    Hi Elise!

    I’ve been making Irish Soda Bread with my very Irish mother and uncle since I was about 4. This recipe looks great! I’ve recently moved to Colorado, and was looking forward to making this bread for friends this weekend. Do you have nay suggestions for baking at altitude? I’m at almost 5,000 feet.

    Thank you!
    Kathleen

    Hi Kathleen, as a near-sea-level dweller, I’m afraid I haven’t the faintest idea how to adjust recipes to cook at high altitudes. You might want to do a little searching online for “high altitude baking” and see what you find. ~Elise

  65. Heather @ (The Single Dish)

    I made this the other afternoon. My dough was super sticky and didn’t form into a ball. I did end up adding about 1/2 cup of flour more. But it baked up well and tasted great!

  66. Candy

    In this recipe, I decided to subsitute cranraisins for raisins, and then I decided to sprinkle a little sugar on top for a little sweetness.

  67. Sincerely

    I just made this bread and to tell you the truth, it is not one of my favorites…1 tsp soda is not enough for 4-4-1/2 cups flour, I made many Irish soda bread and this by far was my least favorite. Too dense and not enough flavor…sorry…..

  68. Jay

    I made this tonight, and my wife and I sampled a slice just now. It came out great, very chewy and delicious! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!

  69. Cindy

    I had a lot of fun baking Irish soda bread while listening to Irish music on St. Patrick’s Day this year, and it was so good I think I made about three more in the weeks after the holiday. I had some trouble determining the optimal baking time (the first time I undercooked it and the second time I burnt it), but it still tasted great. I guess I will have to keep practicing by baking more of them!

  70. Laurie

    I realize this is an old thread, but hopefully someone can answer. Can I use coconut milk yogurt instead of the dairy products? I can’t have dairy or yeast and I’m hoping this will work so I can have some sort of bread type product again.

    thank you

  71. Becky

    Really, really great bread. Gigantic, and I may have eaten a quarter of it myself tonight. Ooops! Mine was definitely shaggy–on the outside and a little bit in the inside too, but oh so delicious! Thanks for a great recipe!

  72. darlene olson

    this recipe was easy to make, but I was careful not to handle it too much and also I watched the baking time as not to over bake. It was 40 minutes. The bread was so moist and had a lot of flaver. This will be my soda bread recipe from now on.

  73. Sera

    While it looks tasty this is definately NOT Irish Soda Bread. My very irish “Granny Clarke” taught me her soda bread recipe a few years ago.

    5 cups SR flour
    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp bi carb soda
    1 1/2cups buttermilk

    Sift dry ingredients together and gradually add buttermilk until you have a pliable mixture. Divide into two parts and knead well adding flour if needed to keep it from becoming sticky. Roll into a round about 1 inch thick. Cut into quaters (called faels). Sprinkle flour into a hot fry pan or griddle and cook faels allowing them to rise before turning them over. Repeat with second part of mixture. Clean the flour from the frying pan and add fresh flour before cooking the second part.

    It can be eaten as savoury or sweet but best on day it’s made.

  74. Carole

    Does any one have a good recipie for irish soda bread that works at high altitude? I’ve tried several and they come out dry flat and just terrible. thanks for anyones input. carole

  75. Jason

    Well, I wonder what went wrong….I tried this recipe TWICE tonight, and both times it came out the same: outside hard, inside still sticky and dough-y. Baked for 45 minutes.

  76. Summer

    Yum! We tried this recipe and it was yummy! Thanks!
    MMM!

  77. Desi

    Or, you can get a pint of whipping cream and a large canning jar, shake it for a while and not only will you get fresh butter, but buttermilk as well. Then you can make your bread and eat it with your homemade butter and feel really fancy. Just saying.

  78. Lee

    This is a delicious soda bread. I however add another full stick of butter to mine to make it more moist. I have had several people request I make it for them and many compliments. I have been told that it isn’t as dry as a desert like most soda breads. Ok it maybe a little more fattening, but it sure tastes good.

  79. Mike

    I see a comment from Kathleen Hallgren about making this at altitude. For St. Paddy’s last year, I made your Soda Bread Biscuits–filed here under Bakery. I’m in Denver, and the result was fantastic; all I did was follow your recipe as written. Big difference is the muffin-type bits, rather than bread-type, big blob. Plus, baking time is cut by 2/3!

  80. Chris

    Just made it and love it. I can’t have gluten, so I simply subbed in the new cup 4 cup gluten free flour of Thomas Keller instead of regular flour. I used slightly more dried fruits and it was a combo of currants, raisins, and cherry Craisins. I have to be careful not to eat the whole loaf! I was skeptical because the dough is surely sticky and was all over my hands, but I wanted to be very careful not to overwork it. I cooked it in cast iron and maybe should have taken out a bit sooner, but the crust and top are not burned and the inside is cooked through. This is a great source for recipes. Thanks so much. My Irish eyes are smiling!

  81. Jackie

    This site may interest you. Sodabread.info It says it is dedicated to the “preservation of traditional Irish soda bread.” I guess my recipe is more of a cake to which I add sugar,dries cranberries, a bit more buttermilk for extra moisture, and this year even sliced almonds. I do use is as more of a desert. :) I am looking foward to trying the traditional bread recipe though.

  82. Shaun

    Super easy to make. Took it to a party. It was hit. “who made the soda bread? It’s delicious”

  83. stacy

    I got in a conversation about irish soda bread with a baker last week- and we both decided that without carraway seeds is best! I usually like it without raisins as well, but this recipe sounds fantastic and the picture makes me want to use raisins!

  84. Camille

    I make this exact recipe for some of my clients, though I thought it was from epicurious…oh well. it is SOOOOO delicious straight out of the oven with salted Irish butter. I use currants instead, which i like b/c they are smaller and then disperse more. I wish i wasn’t gluten intolerant or i would eat it everyday!!!

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