Traditional Irish soda bread only requires 4 ingredients and is perfect for even the beginner bread maker. There is no yeast and no kneading required here. Add the amazing taste of buttermilk, and you have an easy bread that everyone will love.
Use leftover bread to create Irish Soda Bread Pudding (or Bread & Butter Pudding) with a rich creme Anglaise flavored with Bailey's Irish Cream for the ultimate St. Patrick's Day dessert!
This simple bread is super tasty. If you start adding anything, then you have a different bread or tea cake entirely, such as 'spotted dog.'
That would be a more accurate name for a soda bread containing raisins.
I have nothing against all the wonderful variations that could be made, but I like to keep my soda bread nice and simple - like the 'Wonder Bread' of that early era in Ireland.
Just 4 simple ingredients, and you're on your way to the smell of some amazing bread baking. This no-knead, no-yeast bread couldn't be easier, and I've linked to my page for ways to substitute buttermilk if you don not have any.
- All-Purpose Flour - 4 cups of all-purpose flour.
- Baking Soda - 1½ teaspoons of baking soda.
- Salt - 1 teaspoon of salt.
- Buttermilk - 1¾ cups of buttermilk. The buttermilk reacts with the baking soda to act as the leavening agent for the bread. This is the secret ingredient to getting the perfect rise, texture, and flavor!
*Be sure to see the free printable recipe card below for ingredients, exact amounts & instructions with tips!*
🔪 How To Make Irish Soda Bread
Grab your ingredients and a set of deep cake pans for the best results.
This recipe is for one 8-inch round loaf.
Prepare the Dough
- Prep. Preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C) and grease an 8-inch cake pan or line a baking sheet with parchment paper. *I prefer to use a set of 2" deep cake pans. I grease the bottom cake pan and use the second as a lid to simulate the bastible that Irish Soda Bread was originally baked in.
- Combine ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, sift 4 cups of flour and add 1½ teaspoons of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir to mix with the flour, then make a well in the center of your dry ingredients. Add 1¾ buttermilk and stir until a sticky dough is formed (even though the dough is sticky, it may be in pieces).
Shape & Bake
- Shape. Turn the sticky dough out onto a lightly floured surface, flour your hands, and knead the dough gently (to prevent the gas from escaping). Bring the dough together and shape it into a 1½-2 inch tall disc shape to fit into your 8-inch cake pan (this should be roughly the same size if you are baking on a baking sheet).
- Score. Use a sharp knife to score a cross on the top of the dough (to bless the bread), then poke each of the four corners (traditionally done to allow the fairies to escape; otherwise, they will jinx the bread).
- Bake until golden. Cover the cake pan with the second cake pan and bake at 425°F (220°C) for 30 minutes, then remove the top cake pan and finish baking for an additional 15 minutes. The bread will have a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom crust.
- Cool. Turn the baked soda bread out of the cake pan and allow it to cool on a wire cooling rack.
Break the bread loaf in half and cut it into thick slices (or serve as 4-8 torn wedges) to be buttered. This easy buttermilk soda bread is delightful with practically anything. When I make my Irish lamb stew, this tasty bread is a must-have side. Enjoy!
💭 Tips & Notes
- Maintaining Moisture: To ensure your bread stays moist, cover it with a tea towel and lightly mist it using a spray bottle.
- Handling Dough: When preparing your dough, remember not to over-knead it. The dough should have a shaggy appearance for the best texture.
- Repurposing Day-Old Bread: If you have Irish soda bread that's a day old, it's ideal for creating delicious Irish soda bread pudding.
- Preheat Your Oven: Make sure your oven is fully preheated before baking to ensure even cooking.
- Use Buttermilk: Buttermilk reacts with the baking soda to help the bread rise, so don't skip it! If you don't have buttermilk, you can make a quick substitute by adding a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to a cup of milk and letting it sit for a few minutes.
- Score the Top: Before baking, make a deep cross on the top of your dough. This traditional step helps the bread cook more evenly.
- Check for Doneness: The bread is done when it sounds hollow if tapped on the bottom. This is a classic test to ensure it's fully baked inside.
- Cooling: Allow the bread to cool on a wire rack to prevent the bottom from becoming soggy.
You'll want to keep your bread either tightly wrapped or stored in an airtight container at room temperature. It is best when enjoyed within a few days.
Additionally, you can easily freeze the whole loaf or leftovers. Wrap tightly with a few layers of plastic wrap (after it has cooled entirely) and then freeze it for up to 2 months. Just allow it to defrost when you are ready to eat it!
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Scoring the dough with a cross in the middle helps to ensure that the center bakes thoroughly and allows it to rise without cracking. However, there is also a traditional element behind the cross as well! It was believed that scoring a cross on the top of the bread would keep the devil out while it baked (as well as blessing the bread).
There could be a few reasons why your soda bread is extra crumbly. First, you'll want to make sure that you are using the correct measurements for your ingredients. Too much flour can easily dry out the bread. You also need to make sure that your baking soda is still fresh, or it won't work correctly.
The exterior of the bread should be golden brown in color and the center should be completely cooked. You can test it in the same way you would test a cake- by inserting a toothpick into the center and seeing if it comes out clean. Additionally, when you tap the bottom of the loaf, it should have a hollow sound.
😋 More Great Irish Recipes
- Irish Apple Cake - Moist cake is packed with fresh apples and topped with a creamy vanilla custard sauce.
- Corned Beef and Cabbage - This slow-roasted dish is a perfect meal for celebrating St. Patrick's Day.
- Irish Oatmeal Cake with Caramel Pecan Frosting - A moist and fluffy spiced cake is coated with a decadent caramel pecan frosting.
- Irish Nachos - Imagine some delicious nachos, but swap out the chips for thinly sliced potatoes.
- Irish Barmbrack - This tasty raisin bread is easy to make as it doesn't use any yeast.
- Irish Lamb Stew - This mouthwatering stew is packed with tender lamb and hearty veggies.
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📖 Recipe Card
Traditional Irish Soda Bread (Easy No-Knead, No-Yeast Bread)
- Preheat your oven to 425°F (218°C) and grease a 8 inch cake pan or line a baking sheet with parchment paper. *I prefer to use a set of the 2" deep cake pans, grease the bottom cake pan and use the second as a lid to simulate the bastible that Irish Soda Bread was originally baked in.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift the 4 cups all-purpose flour and add the 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir to mix with the flour, then make a well in the center of your dry ingredients. Add the 1 ¾ cup buttermilk and stir until a sticky dough is formed (even though the dough is sticky, it may be in pieces (see video)).
- Turn the sticky dough out onto a lightly floured surface, flour your hands and knead the dough gently (to prevent the gas from escaping). Bring the dough together and shape into a 1 ½ - 2 inch tall disc shape to fit into your 8 inch cake pan (this should be roughly the same size if you are baking on a baking sheet).
- Use a sharp knife to score a cross on the top of the dough (to bless the bread), then poke each of the four corners (traditionally done to allow the fairies to escape, otherwise they will jinx the bread).
- Cover the cake pan with the second cake pan and bake at 425°F (218°C) for 30 minutes, then remove the top cake pan and finish baking for an additional 15 minutes. The bread will have a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom crust.
- Turn the baked soda bread out of the cake pan and allow to cool on a wire cooling rack. Break the bread loaf in half and cut into thick slices (or serve as 4-8 torn wedges) to be buttered.
- Irish Soda Bread was originally baked in a Bastible, which is very similar to a Dutch Oven. However, baking soda bread in our Dutch Oven will give the bottom of our loaf a rounded appearance. Instead, we are using a pair of cake pans to simulate the Bastible, and keep a nice flat bottom crust on our white soda bread.
- Cover the bread with a tea towel and mist with a spray bottle to keep your bread moist.
- Once your Traditional Irish Soda Bread is day old, it is perfect for making our Irish Soda Bread Pudding!
Angela is an at home chef that developed a passion for all things cooking and baking at a young age in her Grandma's kitchen. After many years in the food service industry, she now enjoys sharing all of her family favorite recipes and creating tasty dinner and amazing dessert recipes here at Bake It With Love!