Soda Bread Biscuits

Biscuits? Muffins? What should I call these mini-soda breads? Biscuits (American not English) typically aren’t sweet, muffins typically are. These are as sweet as you want them to be, they look like biscuits, you can eat them like biscuits, but you make them in a muffin tin.

I’ve been struggling with this question for days. It’s been a good excuse to continue taste testing my way through the FIVE DOZEN I’ve made in order to perfect the recipe.

What I can tell you is that they are very good, and that the recipe is wonderfully flexible.

If you want them to be more like traditional soda bread (more biscuit tasting) you can leave out the sugar all together. If you want them to taste more sweet like muffins, you can increase the sugar. If you are going to eat them immediately, or trying to cut down on fat, you can reduce the butter. I made a version with raisins, a version with raisins and caraway seeds together, and even a version with just a teaspoon of orange zest as an add-in. They were all great. I was especially surprised at how good the caraway seeds and the raisins were together, in this slightly sweet biscuit/muffin. Obviously I preferred the full sugar, full butter version, but the lower sugar/lower butter version was good too (I just added more butter and jam to those).

Soda Bread Biscuits Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 12 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 12 biscuits.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of sugar (depending on how sweet you want them)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds*
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of raisins*
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk**

*These add-ins are entirely optional. You could just do plain biscuits, or add in a teaspoon of orange zest, lemon zest, or a couple tablespoons of chopped candied ginger, or a teaspoon of minced rosemary. Have fun with it!

**You can substitute the 1 1/4 cups buttermilk with 1 cup 3 Tbsp of regular whole milk mixed with 1 Tbsp of white vinegar.

Method

1 Preheat oven to 425°F. Butter a standard muffin pan.

2 In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.

3 Cut the butter into tablespoon sized pieces into the bowl of flour. Using your (clean) fingers, work the butter into the flour, schmooshing (is that a technical term?) the butter between your fingers and mixing with the flour until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. If you are using raisins, caraway seeds, or any other add-ins, mix them into the mixture now.

soda-bread-biscuits-a.jpgsoda-bread-biscuits-b.jpg

4 Make a well in the center of the flour. Pour the buttermilk into the center of the well. Use a wooden spoon to gently mix the flour into the buttermilk until the flour is moistened with the buttermilk. Then use your hands to form the mixture into a loose, shaggy, slightly sticky ball of dough. The dough should be a little sticky, if it's too dry, add a tablespoon more of buttermilk. If it's just too wet to handle, add a sprinkling more of flour. Do not over-mix! And at this point work quickly. As soon as the acidic buttermilk interacts with the alkaline baking soda, bubbles will form and leavening will start.

5 Break off 12-equal portions of the dough and place them in the wells of the muffin tin. Put in the oven and bake for 12-13 minutes, until the tops are nicely browned. Remove from the oven and let cool for a couple minutes in the pan. Remove the biscuits from the muffin tin to a rack to cool for a few minutes more.

Serve with butter and jam.

Links:

Over-sized cherry chocolate soda bread muffins from Peanut Butter and Julie
Seeded orange soda bread from Cook Almost Anything

42 Comments

  1. sarah, simply cooked

    Five dozen! I commend you on your thorough recipe testing. I remember Dianne Jacob saying (in Will Write for Food) that most great recipe developers are obsessive enough to keep going and get it right. I admire that.

  2. Janet

    I live in England, and here there is a designated phrase for what you have termed “schmooshing”. It is called “rubbing in” and it is what everyone here does whether they are making pastry, cakes, cookies(biscuits) or bread or whatever. No one uses anything but their fingers to work fat into flour. Just thought you would be interested to know. By the way, I love your recipes and I am definitely going to try this one. Thanks.

  3. Margaret

    What a coincidence! I was just thinking about making these hybrids: http://smittenkitchen.com/2010/03/irish-soda-bread-scones/ but was waiting for a chance to make them for a big group, since eating the whole batch all on the day it is baked would probably make me never want to eat sodabread again, and that would be awful. Now I’ll have to decide which to do first- these sound like a great idea! Thanks, I always love the tone of your writing!

  4. goodevans

    Aren’t these scones?

    Yep, that would be another name for them. But generally not if made in a muffin tin. ~Elise

  5. V in Santa Rosa

    Thank you for the recipe. Do you think that cheese (and no sugar) would work in this recipe, or would it require significant modification?

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

  6. Nicola Franey

    I would call these scones, serve with butter, strawberry jam and clotted cream with a cup of tea! Delicous!

  7. Carly from Yummrs

    These sound kind of scone-like, too! I love the raisin/caraway combo – was thinking of making soda bread this week anyway, and who doesn’t love mini soda breads? Thanks for taste testing 5 dozen for us!!

  8. zulekha

    Can I use olive oil instead of butter? My father wants me to make biscuits for him without butter.

    I wouldn’t, but you could try it, or search for another recipe online that uses oil instead of butter. ~Elise

  9. Mary

    this irish side of my family makes a quick bread spelled ‘scone’ by pronounced ‘scon’ with a short ‘o’ sound. i think it is the result of one bad cook along the way who tried to turn scones into a loaf and stumbled on something that worked :) it’s has flour, soda, salt, eggs, milk, raisins, and caraway seeds…but it is sweet and moist, not bland and dry. it’s a family favorite! your recipe sounds great. i’m wondering if buttermilk would snaz ours up…

  10. Shannon

    I definitely think I need to make a batch of these for St. Patty’s Day. Perhaps a double batch so that I can freeze half for an easy breakfast as I run out the door.

    I’ll be using a gluten free flour mix so I may have to modify it a little, but the basic recipe sounds like it should work just fine. Hmmm…. and perhaps I will add a little orange rind to the mix.

  11. Victor

    We always make our soda bread with currants rather than raisins. The smaller size and slightly different flavor might be ideal for these smaller-size soda breads!

  12. ben

    In Ireland, we would call these “scones”, regardless of what you make them in. In fact, we would expect scones to be this shape rather than the big triangles that are popular in the US.

    Yep, here scones would be in a triangle shape, and a biscuit in a cut round. Unless they were a drop biscuit, which is what this is more like. ~Elise

  13. Susan

    I’ve been on a scone and biscuit kick lately. These remind me of both! Most of the scone recipes I’ve looked at seem to include an egg mixed in with the liquid. There is such a fine line between the recipes! Whatever…this looks great. I love the flavor of caraway in breads and imagine with the dried fruit it’s sweet/savory blend is wonderful. Thanks, Elise.

  14. ee

    Do these have to be made in a muffin tin? Can they just be dropped on a baking sheet instead?

    They can be dropped on a baking sheet too. ~Elise

  15. David

    Just made these yesterday with raisins, caraway seeds and buttermilk. They turned out great. Nice golden brown and I love the smell that the caraway imparts. Thanks Elise for another great recipe. Looking forward to mixing this one up. :)

  16. Judy

    Is it ok to make this with Splenda? I am diabetic. Btw love your recipes!

    Hi Judy, you can skip the sugar all together in this recipe if you want. As for cooking with sugar substitutes, I don’t do it so I wouldn’t know what to advise. But I’m guessing that if you regularly bake with Splenda that it would work in this recipe too. ~Elise

  17. Audrey

    Hi Elise, I simply love your blog! I’ve tried out your baked corn beef recipe since last year, and it was delicious! Tonight, I made your soda bread recipe, my son & I loved the texture and taste, they came out really tasty and so easy to put together. I ran out of buttermilk so I grabbed whatever I had in the fridge – half n half + sour cream + 1/2 tsp of apple cider vinegar = wow! Thanks so much for all the delicious tried and tested recipes.

  18. Wei

    This recipe sounds awesome! But I don’t have a muffin tin. Yes, I know, I should have one but I am temporarily living in an apartment in New York and will be moving. Is it doable without the tin and just on a regular baking sheet?

    Sure, just do drop biscuits on a greased baking sheet. But make sure you use a baking sheet that can take the high heat. Maybe even put them in a cast iron pan. High heat tends to wrap my smaller cookie sheets. ~Elise

  19. Martha

    I love soda bread and scones, but have never had them made in muffin tins. I think I will try these with half whole wheat flour next week for St. Patrick’s Day.

  20. Amy

    This was delicious. Simple and so good. Finally, something my boring coworkers (they don’t normally have good taste for good food) actually ate (they ate all of them, by the way, and didn’t leave ANY for me). Now I know how to keep them quiet…soda bread biscuits.

  21. Tara

    I am on my 2nd batch and am going to make two more with wheat flour instead of white. They turned out gorgeous-the neighbors are going to love me. Thank you

  22. Shannon

    Hmmmm…. I just made these. I must like mine much sweeter. I added the 1/2 cup of sugar, but they barely seem sweet. Could it be too much salt? (I realized that I used salted butter.)

    I subbed in fennel seeds for the caraway and like that very much.

    I need to try again, see if I can adjust things.

  23. Psydad

    I just made a batch of these wonderful things… I went the savory route, left out the sugar and added a cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese, Oh My!! The kids say this is delicious (my allergies are in full bloom, so I can’t smell or taste anything) Just wanted to let you know – the cheese option is a GO! ;)

    Awesome, thanks for letting us know! ~Elise

  24. Kathy

    These biscuits were awesome. I rolled them out and cut them w/ a biscuit cutter as I did not have a muffin pan. I sprinkled some coarse green sugar on top that was leftover from Christmas baking. I also toasted the caraway seeds first to bring out their flavor. I love some of the variations others have tried, especially the sharp cheddar. Thanks for this amazing recipe!!!

  25. Patti

    Elise, these were a hit with my family for our St. Pat’s feast yesterday. I made them exactly as written using 1/2 cup sugar and a rounded 1/2 cup of raisins. Thanks for sharing a great recipe. They will be on the table again next year for sure.

  26. Diana

    I just made these and they are absolutely FABULOUS! The trick from now on is going to be how to not make them every single day.

  27. Sarah

    To Margaret (and others): There’s no reason to wait for a group to eat all the scones in one day. Every time I make scones, no matter which recipe, I make them up ahead of time and freeze them individually on a cookie sheet. When frozen, I transfer them to a zip-top bag. I bake a couple frozen scones at 25° lower than the recommended temperature for 3-5 min longer. It’s great if you have houseguests–no prep time or mess!

  28. Michelle

    I made these muffins last night along with the boiled corned beef and sauteed cabbage. Boy oh boy were they delicious and simple! I sprinkled sugar on top of the muffins before they were baked for a nice crunchy top. Thank you for the wonderful recipes!

  29. Annie

    Thanks for another great recipe! These made for a cozy, delicious start to a cold, rainy day. And they were so quick and easy to make!

  30. dennytcp

    I am on my third batch now…I live and work in a community and my colleagues have dubbed these “Sabbath Scones” since I make them on our day off. So far I’ve tried them with Orange zest & ginger, lemon zest and candied ginger, and today, apples, candied ginger, cinnamon & nutmeg. It’s becoming a real adventure: What shall I put in this week? They are ALWAYS yummy! Btw, Last week (Lemon zest & ginger) I was a bit short on buttermilk and make up the difference with lemon juice; worked wonderfully, and raised them even more than the buttermilk alone. I also do not have a muffin tin, but I set muffin papers in a quiche pan and that works just fine!

  31. Jeepney

    how about soy milk instead of buttermilk?

    Buttermilk is acidic, which is what you need for the leavening in this bread. So, if you don’t use it, you will need to add some lemon juice or vinegar. ~Elise

  32. jean wikinson

    Great recipe, real easy! I make it at least once a week, usually add garlic,cheese,or some spices to accompany whatever I whip up that night.

  33. Mrs. Baker

    We make these in my Home Ec Classes. Used a quarter recipe for an individual final exam. Works well with fat Free milk and margerine, too. These really taste best with the raisins. Cranraisns or dried fruit would be good for the raisin haters. Great for Christmas morning too.

  34. Arwen

    These were delicious! Soft and flaky and wonderful. I’m a bit of a junkie for the raisin/caraway combination, so even though I used the max recommended amounts, I found myself craving a bit more. I may increase to 3 tsp caraway and 1 1/4 c raisins next time. Otherwise just delicious!

I apologize for the inconvenience, but comments are closed. You can share your thoughts on our Facebook page ~ Elise.