Quick and Easy Irish Soda Bread

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

  • Rating: ★★★★★
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Ingredients

  • 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)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease 2-8in cake pans.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Cut in cold butter until small pieces with a pastry blender, or two sharp knives.
  4. Add raisins or chocolate chips, if desired.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and eggs. Add to the dry ingredients, and mix with wooden spoon until just combined.
  6. 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.
  7. Bake for 1 hour. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.

Taste tested with love by friends and family.

Paul Hollywood’s Chocolate Hazelnut Babka

Melt-in the mouth and flakey crust with a moist and buttery bread, filled with a rich chocolate hazelnut crunch filling.

Happy New Year’s Eve! To celebrate, I am making a Chocolate Babka! Over the past couple of months on Instagram, I have seen many baking bloggers making babka. The intricate twisting pattern caught my eye, and I wanted to learn how to do it! I did not expect this twist to be so simple! Babkas are an Eastern European Jewish Bread/Cake that is made from a buttery and eggy dough, and is traditionally filled with cinnamon or jam. However, the chocolate lover in me wanted to try the chocolate version.

Little did I know, making babka is a pretty intensive process. I began by making the filling because it is important for the chocolate filling to completely cool before rolling it into the bread dough. If the filling is not completely cooled, the picture perfect babka twist will not turn out and the chocolate will smear all over the bread dough. The filling is made by melting together the butter, sugar, and chocolate in a double boiler. Then, you remove the chocolate from the heat and stir in the cocoa powder. Transfer into a separate bowl to cool. While I was waiting for the chocolate mixture to melt, I toasted hazelnuts in the oven until golden and then I coarsely chopped them. This will add a nice crunch to the final product.

While the chocolate filling is cooling, make the bread dough. This is the typical process for making very buttery, flakey bread, like brioche. Make the sponge with instant yeast, sugar, and milk (at about 110 degrees F) and set aside until frothy. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix the flour and salt together. Add the eggs and sponge to the stand mixer and mix on slow speed for 2-3 minutes. The dough will be very firm at this point. Increase the speed to medium and slowly add the softened butter a tablespoon at a time. Between each tablespoon, mix well. It may take some time for the butter to incorporate fully. This long process of incorporating the butter is what creates the flakiness of the bread. Once the butter is all incorporated, continue to knead until the dough is very smooth and can pass the window pane test.

Roll the freshly kneaded dough into a 12 x 16 inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface (make sure the long edge is closest to you). Spread the cooled chocolate fudge filling over top, leaving about a 1 cm boarder. Work quickly because the chocolate sauce will be more difficult to spread once poured out. Sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts on the top. As you would with cinnamon rolls, tightly roll the dough starting from the long edge closest to you making sure you are not stretching the dough any bigger than 12 x 16 inches. If stretched, the bread will not fit into the bread tin. Trim about an inch off each end to create clean ends.

To form the twist, rotate the spiral of dough 90 degrees so that the short end is closest to you. Using a large sharp knife, slice lengthways down through the middle of the dough, cutting it into 2 long pieces. Face each half upwards and gently seal the tops of each half. Begin crossing the right half over the left, then the left over the right, repeating until the ends touch to seal. Again, be careful not to pull and stretch the halves while twisting, or the bread will not fit in the bread pan. Carefully lift the twist into a greased and parchment lined bread pan and cover with plastic wrap. Proof until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Once proofed, bake at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes, then 325 for 25-30 minutes. Be sure to keep a close eye on the bread to make sure it isn’t getting too brown. I had to cover my babka with foil during the baking process to prevent it from getting too dark on top. The bread will be done when a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.

While the babka is baking, make the syrup. Over low heat in a small sized sauce pan, boil sugar and water for 5 minutes. Let cool and brush over the babka immediately after it comes out of the oven. Serve warm or at room temperature and enjoy!

I’d love to see your beautiful babkas! Take pictures and tag me on Instagram @beyondbakingwithamandajane and use the #beyondbakingwithamandajane!

Paul Hollywood's Chocolate Hazelnut Babka

  • Servings: 1 loaf
  • Rating: ★★★★★
  • Print

Ingredients

    For the filling:
  • 65g blanched hazelnuts
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 150g granulated sugar
  • 80g 70% dark chocolate, chopped
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • For the dough:
  • 275g all-purpose flour
  • 5g instant yeast
  • 25g granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 50mL whole milk
  • 80g unsalted butter, cubed and softened
  • For the syrup:
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 100mL water

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and roast hazelnuts for 4-5 minutes on a baking tray until golden and then coarsely chop. Let cool.
  2. In a double boiler, melt the butter, sugar, and chocolate until very smooth. Remove from heat and stir in the cocoa powder. Pour into a bowl and let cool and thicken.
  3. Make the sponge. Mix the instant yeast, sugar, and warm milk (about 110 degrees F) together and let sit until frothy.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix the flour and salt together. Add the eggs and sponge to the stand mixer and mix on slow speed for 2-3 minutes. *Note: the dough will be very firm at this point.
  5. Increase the speed to medium and slowly add the softened butter a tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  6. Continue to knead the dough with the dough hook until smooth and the dough passes the window pane test.
  7. Lightly flour a work surface and roll out the dough to a 12 x 16 inch rectangle, with the long edge closest to you.
  8. Spread the cooled chocolate mixture over the dough, leaving a 1 cm border all around. Sprinkle all the toasted hazelnuts over the top.
  9. Starting from the long edge closest to you, roll up the dough into a tight spiral, with the seam underneath. Be sure to not stretch the dough too much.
  10. Trim an inch off each end to neaten, and turn the roll 90 degrees so the short end is closest to you. Using a large knife, slice lengthways down the middle of the dough cutting it into 2 long pieces.
  11. Flip each half upwards and gently seal the tops of each half. Begin crossing the right half over the left, then the left over the right, repeating until the ends touch to seal (be careful not to pull and stretch the halves while twisting, or the bread will not fit in the bread pan)
  12. Carefully lift the twist into a greased and parchment lined bread pan and cover with plastic wrap. Proof until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
  13. Once proofed, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake for 15 minutes.
  14. Decrease the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cover with foil if the bread gets too brown.
  15. While the bread is baking, make the syrup. In a small sized sauce pan, boil sugar and water for 5 minutes. Let cool.
  16. Brush over the babka immediately after it comes out of the oven.

Tate tested by friends and family with love.