Irish soda bread sliced on a cooling rack

Traditional Irish Soda Bread

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Four-ingredient traditional Irish soda bread cooked in a cast iron dutch oven for a dense and tangy loaf, perfect for snacking or dipping in soup.

Irish soda bread is probably one of the easiest bread recipes you can make, and it’s one of my favorites to snack on. I love slathering a warm slice with butter and honey or using it in for dipping in barley stew.

I’ve seen Irish soda bread made many different ways, but my favorite is the traditional four-ingredient version. I love the simplicity of this recipe and the rustic feel it gives off. There isn’t any yeast or kneading required because the chemical interaction between the baking soda and buttermilk creates tiny bubbles while cooking, making it rise on its own. I used a cast iron dutch oven for this recipe and got a beautiful crunchy crust with a dense, moist inside.

The History of Irish Soda Bread

Though soda bread is most commonly attributed to Ireland, it didn’t make its appearance in Ireland until around the 1840s, when British chemist Alfred Bird introduced baking powder to the UK. Native Americans were actually the first people to leaven there bread without the presence of yeast by using pearl ash, a type of natural soda from the ashes of wood.

Irish soda bread became an ideal recipe for Irish families because it could be made without an oven in iron pots over and open hearth, and only required four basic and inexpensive ingredients: soft wheat flour, salt, baking soda, and soured milk. This cooking method gives the bread its dense texture and mild sourness that it is known for.

Slices of Irish soda bread on a cooling rack

Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients

4 cups flour
1 3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter, melted (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and prep a dutch oven.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add in the buttermilk and stir until it forms a sticky dough. Gather and knead the dough for about a minute to shape it into a ball about the size of your dutch oven.
  3. Transfer the dough to your dutch oven and score. If using butter, brush the melted butter over the top of the dough. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 15 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and makes a hollow sound when tapped.
  4. Remove from the dutch oven and allow to cool on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with butter and honey, or use to dip in soups.

Looking for more bread?

Rosemary + Sea Salt Dinner Rolls
Slow-rise Cast Iron Sourdough Bread

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