Bake a Loaf of Easy Irish Soda Bread on St. Patrick's Day
2024/02/20

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You don't need to be a skilled baker to make Irish soda bread—heck, you don't even need to be Irish! All it takes is a few pantry ingredients and a good  to make this traditional baked good. That's right, there's no yeast required and no waiting for the dough to rise! Come spring, it's a  for any celebration, but this raisin- and cranberry-studded loaf makes a delicious addition to bread baskets any time of year. No matter when you bake it, follow Ree Drummond's advice on how to best enjoy Irish soda bread: Slathered in lots of butter and jam! 

Is Irish soda bread really Irish? 

You may be surprised to learn that the first people to make soda bread weren't so Irish after all! Thank the Native Americans: they used a natural form of soda to help make the bread rise without the use of yeast.

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It wasn't until baking soda became readily available in the mid 1800s that the Irish began baking it. That's not to say that it didn't become a popular recipe for many Irish families. The humble bread quickly became a household staple that's still today baked for St. Patrick's Day.

What does Irish soda bread taste like?

Soda bread has a mild flavor that's similar to a biscuit, thanks to its signature tang from . In Ireland, Irish soda bread recipes are often made with currants rather than raisins (some Irish Americans call it "currant bread"), but currants aren't always easy to find, so this recipe calls for a duo of golden raisins and dried cranberries for a touch of sweetness.

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Is Irish soda bread supposed to be dense?

Traditionally, Irish soda bread does have a somewhat dense texture. But to keep this loaf from being too dense and heavy, this recipe uses a mix of all-purpose and cake flour to give it a lighter crumb. The resulting texture is a cross between a typical quick bread and a fluffy scone or biscuit. If you don't have cake flour, don't worry! Check out these . 

Do you have to bake Irish soda bread in a cast-iron skillet?

A cast-iron skillet helps produce a crisp crust on a loaf of Irish soda bread. "Cast iron gets screaming hot," says Ree, "so it's perfect for giving biscuits, rolls, and other breads a beautiful crust.

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" But if you don't have a cast-iron skillet, don't worry—you can also bake this bread on a baking sheet or in a baking pan.

Can I swap regular milk for the buttermilk?

In this recipe, the buttermilk reacts with the baking soda to help the loaf rise and obtain its signature texture. If you don't have buttermilk on hand, use a  like adding a tablespoon of lemon juice to one cup of whole milk.   

What's the best way to store Irish soda bread?

Soda bread can dry out quickly, so be sure to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or store it in an airtight container. Its freshness will last about two days at room temperature, but if you have more than you're able to enjoy at the moment, pop it in the freezer where it'll stay nice and fresh for a few more months.

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Next time you make a big pot of stew, thaw it for the perfect dipper!

How do you eat Irish soda bread?

Soda bread is best served warm, fresh from the oven, or sliced and toasted the next day. Enjoy it for breakfast with plenty of butter and your favorite fruit preserves or serve it for lunch alongside a hearty —it's perfect for dunking! For a festive St. Patrick's Day meal, use it to sandwich and cheese for an epic grilled cheese, or add it to your Irish-inspired .

4 c.

all-purpose flour

1/4 c.

sugar

1 tsp.

baking soda

1 tsp.

kosher salt

6 tbsp.

cold salted butter, diced and divided, plus more for the pan

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1/2 c.

golden raisins

1/2 c.

dried cranberries

1

large egg

1 3/4 c.

buttermilk

Step  1 Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Using a pastry blender or fingers, work 4 tablespoons of the cold butter into the flour until the butter is in small bits. Stir in the raisins and cranberries. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Step  2 In a separate small bowl, whisk together the egg and the buttermilk, then pour it into the flour mixture. Using a wooden spoon, stir it together until the dough is barely incorporated (there will still be some dry flour in the bowl).

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Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Bring the dough together with your hands, kneading gently about 4 or 5 times, until a rough shaggy ball forms and no dry bits of flour remain. Step  3 Butter a 10-inch cast-iron skillet. Place the dough in the skillet and press to form a 7-inch round loaf, about 1 ¼ inches tall. With a sharp knife dusted with flour, cut a large "X" on the top of the dough, about 1 inch deep and 6 ½ inches long. Bake until golden brown and the center is set, 50 to 55 minutes, tenting with foil after 35 to 40 minutes if the top is getting too dark. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. Step  4 Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Brush the top of the bread with the melted butter. Let cool for 10 minutes in the skillet before moving to a cooling rack. Let cool for 10 minutes more before slicing and serving warm.

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