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Monday, April 4, 2011

Irish Soda Bread

Here is a recipe we got from my Grandma Van Nattan.  She and Grandpa were missionaries in Ireland for some years.

This bread is pretty easy to make, and since it is a non-yeast bread it goes quickly, even though it is kneaded briefly.  You may change the spices to suit your own taste also.

This batch was made with part whole wheat, raisins and a Middle Eastern sweet bread spice for which I do not know the proper name.  I did not make it in this dish, but put it there to store it as the dish has a sealing lid.


Irish Soda Bread

4 Cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon soda
1/4 Cup sugar (optional)
1/8 teaspoon cardamom or coriander (optional)
1/4 Cup margarine
1 egg
1 3/4 Cups buttermilk

In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, soda, sugar, and spice.  Add margarine and cut in until crumbly.  Beat egg slightly and  mix with buttermilk.  Add to dry ingredients and mix until blended.  Turn out onto floured board and knead until smooth, about 2-3 minutes. 

Divide dough in half and shape each into a round loaf.  Place each in an 8 inch cake pan, or both on a cookie sheet.  Press down and make several 1/2 inch deep slashes in the top with a sharp knife. 

Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

1.  Omit spice and add 2 Cups of raisins and 1 1/4 teaspoons caraway seed.
2.  Substitute 2 Cups whole wheat flour for 2 Cups white flour.
3.  2 Cups of raisins or chopped, pitted dates can be added.


  1. The bread looks beautiful! There is a show called America's test kitchen that takes recipes and tests them out. They did soda bread and reduced the soda content, added cream of tartar and baked it in a dutch oven at high heat for lift...I haven't tried it, but I guess it takes out the strong soda flavor and gives the bread lots of air so it is not so dense. If I do tackle this recipe, I'll let you know how it turns out.

  2. This recipe doesn't have much soda in it, but it does have a fair bit of baking powder. However, it makes two loaves. It is a bit dense, but I didn't notice any bad flavor particularly. Maybe that's just me.

    Let me know if you try that other method. Lighter would be better, although with the whole wheat it might not work for me.

  3. Yeah, the recipe calls for 1/3 white flour, 1/3 cake flour, 1/3 whole wheat. I guess authentic Irish soda bread has a tender, dense crumb and a rough-textured, thick crust—definitely a departure from the more common Americanized soda bread, which is closer to a supersized scone.
    The cake flour gives it lift, less protein and softer wheat is usually used in cake flour. If you grind your own grain, a soft, white wheat might work well. They also baked the soda bread in a hot cast iron skillet. I can't get the exact recipe because I'm not a "premium" member but I'll play with it at the new house and let you know. Now Mary, if dyed marshmallows are okay every now and then, surely cake flour has justification as well! ;o) I'm a "grind my own" whole wheat kinda gal myself, so I know of what you speak.

  4. LOL about the marshmallows. :-) And, yes I would use cake flour upon occasion if I felt like it. I keep white all-purpose flour on hand, in fact, and we use it fairly often. The last time my husband bought it, though, he decided to get organic, so I feel better about it. ;-)

    As for this soda bread recipe, I *think* that it came from Ireland. However, I'm going to look up the soda bread recipe in my mom's Irish cook book, which I know is authentic.

    By the way, I suspect real American corn bread was probably always baked in a cast iron skillet in the old days too.