If you never tried bread made without yeast, you missed a lot. This Irish Soda Bread is an easy way to put bread on the table in a blink of an eye.
Soda bread is an Irish recipe that is considered a staple in Irish cuisine. Made with all kinds of flour, this type of no-yeast bread usually rises with the help of baking soda, baking powder, and buttermilk.
Soda bread is considered a quick bread recipe.
Why I like this recipe
This is a basic, easy Irish soda bread recipe that will save the day when you run out of bread, and it is perfect with soups and stews but also with butter, jam, and a cup of coffee.
You do not need to be Irish to make this bread. You just need to have four ingredients in the pantry for this beautiful recipe and obviously an oven.
On the other hand, if you want to get fancier, I have some other recipes for you:
There is nothing better than a loaf of bread coming out of the oven.
The smell of fresh-baked bread is wonderful, but a slice of bread with butter is absolute heaven. And who doesn't enjoy some bread and butter once in a while?
What does it taste like?
I never had no-yeast bread or Soda Bread. What does it taste like, and what is its texture?
First of all, the name comes from the fact that this type of bread is made with baking soda. Some soda breads are made with whole wheat flour, some with white flour, or a combination of both.
The texture is a little bit denser than a loaf of bread for sandwiches, for example, but the look is rustic and hearty, and the crust is thicker and more delicious.
However, even though it is dense, the bread still has that fluffy, airy texture of the crumb, almost like yeast bread.
How to handle soda bread dough
Do not be tempted to knead the soda bread dough the same way you would knead yeast dough. Too much handling causes the bread to toughen.
The process should not take more than a few minutes from the time you add the buttermilk to the time you put it in the oven- any longer, and the action of the baking soda is lost.
Note: I saw some recipes out there advising on freezing the dough and baking the bread later. I say it is totally wrong, as the soda will outgas and lose its leavening power within the first hour or so, leaving you with bread that will not rise anymore in the oven.
Also, the basic rule is not to knead the bread at all or knead only a few times (less than ten times). As you will see in my recipe here, this version doesn't require any kneading.
The short answer is basic, simple ingredients that most people should have in their pantries.
- Plain white flour- Most people have all-purpose flour in the pantry, and it works fine.
- Salt- This is an important ingredient for seasoning and the only one required for this simple bread.
- Baking soda(bicarbonate of soda)- Do not confuse baking soda with baking powder. They act differently in batters and doughs. You cannot just swap them when one is missing from your pantry, and if you do, you will need to adjust the recipe.
- Buttermilk- Buttermilk is acidic. In combination with baking soda, buttermilk produces carbon dioxide gas, which is why bread rises, pancakes get fluffy, biscuits get rich and flaky, and the cake gets moist and delicious—more about buttermilk in this article.
How to make this Bread
Preheat oven to 450F and dust a baking sheet with flour.
Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and gradually add the buttermilk, drawing in the dry ingredients from the sides of the bowl. Mix until a soft dough forms.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape it into a ball about 2 inches in height.
Place the ball of dough on the prepared baking sheet and use a floured knife to cut a deep large cross on top of it. You can also use an iron skillet.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30-45 minutes until the loaf is golden brown and has a hollow sound when tapped on the base. Transfer to round loaf to a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Slice the bread using a serrated knife.
This easy soda bread recipe could easily become your daily bread to bake, as it takes very little time, and the results are amazing.
Now, you can bake a delicious homemade Irish soda bread and feel like a true Irish. With only four ingredients, you can put bread on the dinner table in no time.
Why do we have to cut a cross on top of the soda bread?
Traditionally, a deep cross is cut on top of the soda bread, giving it its distinctive appearance. Mothers used to tell their children that the cross allowed the fairies to escape.
I actually saw an Irish cooking show on TV where the baker was making soda bread with Paul Hollywood, and she was explaining the same thing while she was making the cross on top of her bread.
The real purpose of the cross is actually to allow the steam to escape during baking, producing a lighter textured bread.
If you can't get buttermilk, there are several easy substitutes:
- Natural yogurt- make up a 3:1 mixture of plain yogurt and water
- Sour cream- make up a 3:1 mixture of sour cream and water
- Kefir- thin the kefir with water or milk until it has the consistency of buttermilk.
- Cream of tartar- Mix 1 cup whole milk with 1 ¾ teaspoons cream of tartar. Stir and leave to stand for 5-10 minutes until thick and curdled.
- Milk and lemon juice or vinegar- Mix 1 cup of whole milk with one tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar. Leave to stand for 5-10 minutes until slightly curdled.
Can I add some other ingredients to this basic recipe?
Yes, you can. Here are some options:
- Soda Bread With onion & dill- Prepare the basic recipe, adding one tablespoon of dried minced onion and one tablespoon of dried dill to the flour before mixing.
- Soda bread with cheese & mustard- Prepare the basic recipe, adding ½ cup shredded Cheddar cheese and two teaspoons dried mustard to the flour before mixing.
- Soda bread with sweet red bell pepper & sage- Prepare the basic recipe, adding ¼ cup of finely chopped roasted sweet red peppers and one tablespoon (or less, as you want) of dried sage to the flour before mixing.
- Fruit & oats- Prepare the basic recipe, replacing two tablespoons of the flour with two tablespoons of rolled oats and adding ½ cup of chopped raisins or cranberries.
To keep this hearty bread fresh and moist, follow these simple steps:
- Wrap the bread in aluminum foil or plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out.
- Store the wrapped bread in a cool, dry place, such as a pantry, airtight container, or breadbox. Do not store it in the refrigerator, as this can dry out the bread.
- If you live in a humid environment, you can also place a piece of paper towel in the package with the bread to absorb excess moisture.
- If you want to extend the shelf life of the bread even further, you can freeze it. To freeze, wrap the bread tightly in aluminum foil or plastic wrap, then place it in a freezer-safe container or resealable plastic bag. Label the container with the date and contents, then freeze for up to three months.
- To thaw this traditional soda bread, remove it from the freezer and allow it to come to room temperature while still wrapped. Once thawed, you can reheat the bread in the oven at 350°F (175°C) for 10-15 minutes or until warmed through.
By following these tips, you can keep your leftover Irish soda bread fresh and delicious for several days or even weeks.
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Irish Soda Bread (No Yeast Bread- just 4 ingredients)
- 3 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour plus extra for dusting the table
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ¾ cups buttermilk
- Preheat oven to 450F and dust a baking sheet with flour.
- Mix the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and gradually add the buttermilk, drawing in the dry ingredients from the sides of the bowl. Mix until a soft dough forms.
- Turn out onto a work surface lightly dusted with flour and shape into a a round about 2 inches in height. Place the round on the prepared baking sheet and use a floured knife to cut a deep cross in it.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 30-45 minutes until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the base. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
- It keeps well in an airtight container for up to 3 days. It can also be frozen for up to 3 months.
If you can't get buttermilk, there are several easy substitutes for it:
- Natural yogurt– make up a 3:1 mixture of plain yogurt and water
- Sour cream– make up a 3:1 mixture of sour cream and water
- Kefir– thin the kefir with water or milk until it has the consistency of buttermilk.
- Cream of tartar– Mix 1 cup whole milk with 1 ¾ teaspoons cream of tartar. Stir and leave to stand for 5-10 minutes until thick and curdled.
Milk and lemon juice or vinegar– Mix 1 cup of whole milk with one tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar. Leave to stand for 5-10 minutes until slightly curdled.