I LOVE Irish soda bread. Love it. Actually, let me rephrase that: I love homemade Irish soda bread. The kind my mother and I make. I hate to break it to you: the raisins and caraway seeds in “Irish soda bread” are an American addition. I don’t find them too offensive; corned beef and cabbage is an American-Irish tradition as well, and my family has eaten it every St. Patricks Day since we’ve been in this country. However, that said, when I make my own bread I do not include them. I have occasionally, for fun, but on the regular I skip them. Probably because I don’t like raisins.
Most people make their soda bread on a baking sheet or sometimes in a cake pan. Traditionally, Irish soda bread was baked in a bastible, which is essentially a cast iron Dutch oven. It was made over hot coals or a fire, hanging in this bastible. So today, the recipe I’m sharing with you is made in just that: a Dutch oven. My Dutch oven is quite large- 7.25 qt. If you have a smaller one it will do just fine. I probably wouldn’t recommend going under 3.5/4 quarts, however.
And yes- if you don’t have a Dutch oven, you can use a cake pan, a pie plate or a baking dish and skip alla dis.
Irish soda bread is the EASIEST bread to make. It usually has super minimal ingredients, can be “kneaded” without much more than just a wooden spoon, it has no “rise” and it really is supposed to be rustic and rough looking. So it makes a perfect bread for beginners. If you’ve never made bread, this might be a really easy intro for you.
MARION CUNNINGHAM’S DUTCH OVEN IRISH SODA BREAD (adapted from Everyday Dutch Oven)
- 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (plus more for shaping dough)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 cups buttermilk
- Preheat oven to 375° F. Lightly oil or spray dutch oven. In medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt with a whisk or fork.
- When oven is ready, place dutch oven in it to warm up. While the oven and the other oven is pre-heating, add the buttermilk to the dry ingredients and stir vigorously with a fork or wooden spoon just until the dough comes together.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently for a minute (the dough will not be smooth). Form the dough into a round loaf shape about 6 inches in diameter.
- Transfer dough to heated dutch oven (use spatula and plate or parchment paper as dough will be sticky). With sharp knife cut an ‘X’ in the top about 1/2 inch deep.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes at 375° or until the bread is golden and sounds hollow when you tap the bottom of the loaf. Remove from dutch oven and place on rack to cool completely. Best eaten the same day, once cool, wrap in plastic wrap and store at room temperature.
IRISH WHISKEY BUTTER
- 1 stick good quality salted Irish butter (Kerrygold is what I used)
- 2 – 3 tablespoons Jameson Irish whiskey
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Mix whiskey with sugar in a small bowl. Set aside. Soften butter.
- When butter is completely softened, add sugar and whiskey to the butter in a bowl. Using a mixer, beat until everything is combined.
- Spoon into a ramekin or butter dish, or roll into a “butter log” using plastic wrap while soft. Refrigerate until right before use.
And yes, if you love the raisins and caraway seeds, or currants, or whatever… then use them. Around 2 tablespoons caraway seeds and maybe 1/4 cup raisins should do it. And yes, you could probably split it into two mini-loaves, and you could probably double it to make one gigantic loaf- but don’t quote me on that.
Of course, it’s just as good with regular butter and maybe some marmalade. But who can turn down IRISH WHISKEY BUTTER. Look at how it melts into the bread… UGHHHHH.
Some other amazing Irish soda bread recipes:
- Mini-loaves of Irish soda cake
- Another version of an authentic Irish soda bread
- Irish soda muffins with Jameson-soaked raisins
- Downey’s Irish soda bread