Best Irish Soda Bread Recipes With Grain, Fruit and Spice Options
Irish Soda bread is a variety of quick breads made with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) as a leavening agent instead of yeast.
There are many varieties of similar quick breads throughout the world such as Australian damper, Scottish bannocks and farls, and closely related griddle cakes, buns and scones.
The basic ingredients of traditional soda breads are flour, baking soda, salt, butter and generally milk.
Basic soda breads are very easy to make, but what makes a boring soda bread interesting is the fabulous ways that other ingredients can be added to enhance the flavour, appearance and taste of the soda bread as well as improving the nutrients and health benefits of the bread you bake.
This article includes soda bread recipes with an intriguing array of interesting ingredients such as eggs, wholemeal grain flours, multi-grains, sultanas, dates and raisins, nuts, seeds and herbs.
Discover how to turn an easy simple soda bread, into a delightful and flavoursome treat that are just as easy to make, but are much more rewarding for your time and effort.
Basic Irish Soda Bread Recipe with Wholemeal Flour, Buttermilk and Oats
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 100g (1/2 cup) rolled oats
- 500ml (2 1/4 cups) buttermilk
- 250g plain (1 cup) white flour
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 25g (1oz) butter, cut in pieces
- 250g plain (1 cup) wholemeal flour
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C (390 degrees F) and dust a baking sheet with flour ready for baling the bread. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl, then rub in the butter as you do when making scones. Make a volcano shape in the flour and pour in the buttermilk. Mix the milk into the flour with a table knife or spatula. Gently shape the dough into a ball in the bowl with minimal manipulation as you want to retain as much air in the mixture as possible. The acid in the milk starts to react with the baking soda almost straight away. If you knead the dough you will squeeze all the leavening out of it. Once again the same principles apply when making scones. Place the dough onto a baking sheet and shape it gently into a round slightly flattened disk, slightly larger than a hand span. Score the top of the dough with one or two deep cuts (optional). Put the loaf on the baking sheet and score a deep cross in the top.
Place the baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the bread is cooked. Generally the bottom of the loaf will sound hollow when tapped. If in doubt insert a skewer into the loaf. When it comes out clean the loaf is cooked.
Traditional Irish Soda Bread Recipe with Raisins and Caraway Seeds
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 pint ( 2 cups) sour cream
- 3/4 cup raisins (or sultanas)
- 2 tablespoons caraway seeds
Preheated the oven to 350 degrees F (210 degrees C). Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Next, beat the eggs in a small bowl and blend in the sour cream.
Combine the egg mixture with the dry ingredients and mix well with a wooden spoon or spatula. The batter will be very thick and so resist the temptation to add more liquid. Then, add the caraway seeds and raisins and combine well. Transfer the batter in a greased 9 in (20cm) diameter springform pan or a flat backing tray. Flatten the dough ball slightly. Make two cuts at right angles in the top of the dough. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Test for doneness with a skewer inserted into the centre of the loaf. When cooked it should be clean when withdrawn.
Irish Soda Bread made with Wholemeal Flour
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1-1/3 cups buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 cups 100% whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cups unbleached bread flour
- 2/3 cup currants, sultanas or raisins
- 4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 8 pieces
Combine the flours, sugar, baking soda, salt and currants or raisins in a large bowl. Rub the butter into the flour with your hands or with a food processor.
Whisk the egg and milk in a small bowl. Pour this liquid into the dry flour and mix to combine. The dough will be quite stiff. If it is crumbly when you gently shape it into a ball, add another 1-2 tablespoons of buttermilk. Knead the dough very gently and briefly and shape into a ball. Flatten the ball slightly, and place it into in a lightly greased 8 9-inch (20cm) round cake pan or in a similar pan. Use a sharp knife to make two cuts in the shape of an 'X' about 1/2 inch (1 cm) deep.
Bake the bread in a preheated oven set at 400 degree F (205 degrees C) for 45-55 minutes, until it is golden brown on top and cooked in the middle.
Savory Wholemeal Soda Bread with Sour Cream, Onion and Cheese
- 20 g (3/4oz) baking powder
- 250 g (9oz) wholemeal flour
- 200 ml (3/4 cup) buttermilk
- 100 ml (1/2 cup) sour cream
- 150 g (5 oz) cheddar cheese
- 40 g (1 1/2 oz) caster sugar
- 250 g (9oz) strong bread flour
- 75 g (3 oz) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 onion, chopped and gently fried until softened but not browned
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (390 degrees F). Line a baking sheet with paper, or grease and dust with flour. Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre. Rub the butter into the flour and then mix in the sour cream, buttermilk, cheddar cheese and fried onion. Combine well to to make a soft dough and then shape into a ball. Do not over mix. Place into the baking sheet, flatten slightly and cut two slices at right angles into the top of the ball. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the loaf is golden brown and cooked inside.
Soda Focaccia Bread with Rosemary
- a few sprigs rosemary
- 450 g (16 oz) plain flour
- 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 level teaspoons baking soda
- 400 ml (1 1/2 cups) buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 225 degrees C (440 degrees F). Grease the inside of a, bread tin, Swiss roll tin or similar, with olive oil. Sieve the flour, 1 teaspoon of salt and baking soda and mix. Make a well in the centre of the flour and add 3/4 of the buttermilk and blend in with the flour. The dough should be soft but not sticky or wet. Add more buttermilk if required. Shape the dough into a ball and then roll to elongate to fit into the pan.
Make small dimples or tiny wells in the top of the dough with your fingers and pour a little olive oil into the wells and over the top. Poke the rosemary sprigs into the top of the dough, sprinkle with salt. Bake for about 30 minutes, until cooked and browned on top. When cooked the bottom of the bread sound hollow when tapped.
Multi-Grain Soda Bread Recipe with Six Seed Varieties
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 3/4 cup spelt flour
- poppy seeds or similar
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 tablespoons each of sunflower seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C), and place the oven rack in the center of the oven.
Mix all the seeds together in a small bowl and set aside.
Sift the flours, salt and baking soda together into a large mixing bowl. All most of the seeds, retaining some for the top of the loaf. Make a well in the center of the flour. Pour in the buttermilk, and mix with a wooden spoon or spatula until the dough just begins to come together. Transfer the dough out onto a lightly floured board or bench top and knead very lightly and briefly. Only knead enough to form the dough, but not too long as this will make the bread heavy. Also you need to be quick as the baking soda starts to work as soon as the buttermilk is added. Transfer the dough ball to a lightly floured baking sheet, flatten a little and make two slashed at right angles into the top of the loaf. Brush the top with buttermilk and sprinkle with the seeds that you retained.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the top of the loaf is golden brown and has started to form a crust on the top and bottom, and the loaf is cooked inside. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
© 2014 Dr. John Anderson
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