According to Wikipedia, the Irish first began making soda breads in 1840 when bicarbonate of soda was introduced to Ireland. This is the Meyers’ family Irish Soda Bread recipe, but the recipe is not entirely traditional since it includes baking powder. My mother-in-law makes this every year for St. Patrick’s Day, and we have continued the family tradition. I love pieces of it toasted and slathered with fresh butter for breakfast.
Because the dough requires only minimal mixing and shaping, I do this all by hand. You can use a stand mixer and dough hook, just take care not to overwork the dough or the bread will be tough.
You can use whole wheat flour, too. I often use half whole wheat/half white unbleached flour.
This bread freezes well. Double wrap in plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag.
If you don’t keep buttermilk on hand, you can make it yourself. Mix 3 tablespoons lemon juice and add milk until you have required amount for recipe. Allow to sit on the counter for 15 to 20 minutes to give it time to curdle.
You can make this recipe gluten free by using King Arthur Measure for Measure Flour. We have tested with this flour and no other substitutions. The texture is not precisely the same and it is a little more crumbly, but it still turned out well. See notes in the recipe.
Irish Soda Bread
- large mixing bowl
- wooden spoon or silicone spatula
- 2 (8-inch) round cake pans, lightly greased on the bottom
- 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold)
- 2 cups currants or raisins
- 1 egg (slightly beaten)
- 1¾ cup buttermilk or sour milk
- 1 tablespoon milk
- granulated sugar for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 375° F/190° C. (If you are using dark nonstick pans, preheat oven to 350° F/175° C.)
- Combine flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and sugar. Add butter and cut in until crumbly. Stir in the currants.
- Combine egg and buttermilk and add to dry ingredients. Stir until blended.
- Turn the dough out onto a wooden board sprinkled with flour. Knead the dough for a minute, no longer. If the dough is a little sticky, dust with some extra flour. Take care not to overwork the dough or add too much extra flour, or the bread will be tough.
- Divide dough in half and shape each into a round loaf. Place each loaf into an 8-inch round cake pan. Cut a cross on top of each loaf, about 1/2-inch deep. Then brush each with milk and sprinkle sugar on the top.
- Bake 35-40 minutes until golden. Remove from pans and cool on a wire rack. Slice to serve.