Soft, hearty, and moist Irish Soda Bread with the perfect sweet and crunchy crust.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! This year St. Patrick’s Day is going to be a little different with the pandemic, but that can’t stop me from eating my special Irish Soda Bread! I do have to admit that Irish Soda Bread is a year-round bread for me though, I just love it so much! I can literally eat a whole loaf on my own in a single sitting!
Growing up, my mom used to get Irish Soda Bread from a bunch of different places near our house around St. Patty’s. I’ve always been super picky with my Irish Soda Breads. No store bought or any bakery had the Irish Soda Bread that I really really loved. If I had to choose, my favorite was from Shoprite, but it had to be freshly made or the crust wouldn’t have that characteristic crunch to it. Some loaves were too dry, some used caraway seeds, and some were flavorless. And more importantly, they all had raisins, and I am not a huge fan of them. I would sit down at the counter, unwittingly preparing myself to eat the whole loaf, but I would spend more time picking out every single raisin than actually eating the bread (which is a good and bad thing)! I knew I could make a better loaf, plus, I could choose if I wanted to add raisins or not!
Irish soda bread is traditionally made with four ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda, and sour milk (what we know as buttermilk). Traditional yeast was not always available, so when baking soda was introduced in Ireland, they used this to make their bread. The combination of baking soda and buttermilk creates little air bubbles in the oven which will enable the bread to rise. It is important to have the buttermilk in this recipe as its acidic properties will enable the baking soda to do its job as a leavener.
After years of trying to create the perfect recipe, I have finally got it down, and it finally satisfies all the criteria I have for the perfect Irish Soda Bread. It is flavorful, moist, hearty, and has an amazing sweet crunch to the crust. It is also a huge hit with my family especially as an appetizer at our family gathering (before COVID-19, of course). This recipe is super easy to make too! There’s nothing not to love about it! The most important thing to remember while making the bread is to not over mix. If you over mix by even just a little, the bread will be dry and tough.
Begin by mixing all of the dry ingredients together. Using a pastry blender or two sharp knives, cut in a stick of cold butter into the dry ingredients until very small pieces of butter are evenly distributed throughout. This will make the bread have a flakier crust and texture. Next, add in the raisins, if desired, and for my chocolate lovers, you can add chocolate chips instead! Mix until well combined. Then, whisk the buttermilk and eggs together in a small bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the rest of the ingredients. Mix with a wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms and everything is just combined. Do not over mix! Divide the dough in two, and place each half into two-8-inch greased cake pans. Using a sharp knife, cut a 1/4-inch deep cross across the top of each loaf. Sprinkle with a little granulated sugar for a sweet crunchy crust. Bake until golden for 60 minutes.
This bread also freezes very well. Once completely cooled, cut the bread into desired size. Wrap well with aluminum foil, and place in a large zip lock bag to freeze. Now, whenever you want a warm and delicious slice of Irish Soda Bread, you can always toast one up! I love to bring back a loaf (of two) from home to freeze when I am at college because warm Irish Soda Bread is the best late-night studying snack there is. I would make a loaf with raisins to leave at home for my family to enjoy, and I would bring the plain loaf back to school with me. It’s the best of both worlds!
I would love to see you make my favorite and delicious Irish Soda Bread! Tag me in your pictures on Instagram @beyondbakingwithamandajane and use the #beyondbakingwithamandajane! I can’t wait to see your creations!
Quick and Easy Irish Soda Bread
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter, cold
- 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup raisins (optional)
- 1 cup chocolate chips (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease 2-8in cake pans.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Cut in cold butter until small pieces with a pastry blender, or two sharp knives.
- Add raisins or chocolate chips, if desired.
- In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and eggs. Add to the dry ingredients, and mix with wooden spoon until just combined.
- Divide the dough in two. Using a sharp knife, cut a 1/4-inch cross across the top of the dough balls. Sprinkle sugar on top.
- Bake for 1 hour. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.