Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Irish Soda Bread – Better Than a Pot of Gold

St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner, and what better way to celebrate than with a loaf or two of Irish soda bread? If made correctly, this is one of the best quick breads (those leavened without yeast) you’ll ever have. Subtly sweet, with a light, tender crumb, and not at all dry. 

Done wrong, it’s worse than not having any at all. I’ve had some that were not only dry and crumbly, but had such a strong chemical aftertaste, I wondered if I was being poisoned. Okay, so I’m a bit paranoid, but the point is, this is not one of those recipes loaded with spoonfuls of baking powder and soda.

We’re using just enough soda to react with the acid in the buttermilk, and then hedging our bets with a teaspoon of baking powder. That’s really all you need. Speaking of buttermilk, this is one of those recipes, where you can substitute with your own homemade equivalent. Just use the same amount of whole milk, but add 1 tablespoon, plus 2 teaspoons, of either lemon juice or white vinegar to the wet ingredients. It’s the tanginess and acid we need, so that will work just about the same.

By the way, if you’re not into the more breakfasty version I did here, this is very simple to convert into a savory bread. Leave out the dried fruit, maybe cut down the honey a little, and you’ll have something wonderful to serve with soups and stews. I hope you give this a try very soon. Enjoy!

Makes 2 loaves of Irish Soda Bread:
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup quick-cooking oatmeal or regular rolled oats
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda (make sure it’s fresh)
1 teaspoon baking powder (make sure it’s fresh)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter, cubed
2 or 3 tablespoons honey
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
1 large egg
2 teaspoons orange zest
1 cup dried currants
1/3 cup gold raisins


Unknown said...

This is way more complicated than my own recipe (plain savory version), 500g of flour (white/wholemeal depending on what I have at the time), 500g of Natural Yoghurt (organic is much better), 1tsp of Bicarbonate of soda and a pinch of salt.
Mix with as little working as possible and throw into oven for 30 mins. And yes, as an Irish man I can confirm that the cross is obligatory, its the law

Unknown said...

Hi Chef, I just wanna thank you from the deepest part of my heart for helping an eleven year old out. You have taught me so many things about cooking and even making up jokes!!! And again, thank you:)

Alicia said...

Great recipe! You make it look easy, but we shall see.

Unknown said...

Hi Chef John! Thanks for all the great recipes and entertainment you've provided me! I made soda bread today and followed instructions to a "t". Tastes good but I didn't get the air bubbles in the bread that you discussed. Not sure what I did wrong (and you have no way of knowing what I did wrong either). Anyway, keep 'em coming and I'll keep making them! Peace.

Unknown said...

If there are any leftover (note, I say IF), this might be pretty terrific in a bread pudding.

- Nitin said...

Hi Chef John!

I love your work. I just finished making this recipe and think I nailed it. Hope you'd like a photo.

Also, would you consider writing out directions as well as ingredients? It can be tough to go back and forth to the video for things like baking temps and times. No worries if you'd rather not...I get access to your skills and talents for free after all!



Mark said...

I really must have a go and make this. But I seem to have something of a psychological phobia when it comes to baking. I'm only just getting the hang of cooking but baking fills me with dread.

Oh, I realise that in my post in the previous thread I was talking nonsense. I looked up the names and it turns out the wheaten bread I was going on about is soda bread. However, the name wheaten is only used in the north - where I am - and provided it's an entirely wholemeal version.

The things I used to get in school are soda farls. They must be done initially in a fairly large circular shape and then cut into four 'pie-slice' shaped pieces. As far as I can remember they must have been made only from white flour and had a much softer texture than wheaten (the soda you've done here).

Chef John, the wholemeal version I've had has never had fruit in it. Do you think the fruit would work if I was to use only wholemeal flour?


Cliverton said...

According to the late, Sister Celeste it is spoonsful and never spoonfuls.

Just sayin'.

It came out great!

Thank you

Jasen said...

Ive got these baking in the oven now. Instead of cutting butter into dough using normal chunks of butter method, grating the butter using a cheese grater works much better and cuts in easier.

Looking forward to trying these in an hour and as always, thanks for the wonderful videos and recipes.

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed making this with my daughter tonight. The house smells wonderful, and both kids are looking forward to a nice treat with breakfast tomorrow before school. Happy St. Patrick's Day from upstate NY. Keep the videos coming! We love the instruction AND your sense of humor. No blarney!

Unknown said...

I hate baking, but this look so easy, so I felt I could pull it off. I made them and they turned out fantastic. Thanks :)

Rosalie Lingo said...

I always hated Irish soda bread because it usually had that terrible baking soda flavor. But I made this and it is 10/10. I added some dried cranberries to the golden raisins and currants, also I used agave and brown sugar because I was out of honey. I did the whole thing in the food processor and it was super fast and easy. Sacrificed one of my loaves to make a bread pudding and I bet that's going to be just as awesome.

russian hill said...

So easy and soooooo delicious. I will be making this on a regular basis. My Irish husband is in heaven about his 'new" breakfast toast. No mods here.
Thanks Chef John!
What do you think about grating the butter in...instead of cutting with a pastry cutter?

Unknown said...

How do I print your recipes?

Unknown said...

Hi Chef John,

What can I use instead of the buttermilk? I can't find it anywhere near I live. Thanks!

Adriana Capelloza said...

It's delicious!

Adriana Capelloza said...

It's delicious! The perfect bread for breakfast.

Adriana Capelloza said...

It's the perfect bread for breakfast.

MamaM said...

Ok Chef John..... I tried...l and failed atthis recipe... Yes... I broke the forbidden rule of too much flour becaause kt was so sticky...l note to self--watch the video BEFORE attempting recipes. Guess what LX said... (While trying to swallow, as if it were.... Tar covered bricks... "Gosh mom... You really nailed this one!" I thought "WOW, cool! I though it sucked" in my head.... As he continued.... "IF you had been born in the times of the heaviest fighting, you would have been POPULAR!" Having no idea where he was going with this, I trepidaciously said, "uh... Thanks, I think." He said "oh no mom! Thats a good thing! It would have been torture to eat but my goodness it would have made one heck of a weapon to use n those sling shot machines!! Your Irish soda bread could have been a 'cover name' for armageddon bread for massive defense systems!!!" :insert deflating ego here: "Thanks LX. 'Preciate that fine comparison." SMH. He is part-time comdian in the family. Unfortunately he learned to speak fluent hilarious sarcasm from me.

Whaler said...

I just made this! It came out so delicious. I added Carraway seeds and it added that perfect flavor I remembered as a kid going to the irish bakery. Thank you for this awesome tutorial


Sarmie Sisters. said...

This recipe is my lucky charm. Until I tried this version, I have NEVER made a good loaf of Irish soda bread-- they've been either too funny, dense, or chewy. This recipe yielded a perfect golden crust, an airy texture, and fantastic flavor. I will not search for another soda bread recipe again-- thanks for sharing.

lilimonje said...

OMG! SO amazing! As if you were in my kitchen teaching me every step! I would have wanted to add more flour to the wet dough but you said NO! I would have been scared to roll "wet" dough but you said it was possible & it was!!! I followed your every step and it was AMAZING!!! Perfect like a "POT OF GOLD"!

ScienceSusan said...

I’m with Whaler. Some caraway seeds MAKE it Irish soda bread for me.

Unknown said...

Chef John is the Man!
Worked for us here in Juvenile Detention (Vancouver WA.). Kids made three loaves, Plain, dried fruit and Red Pepper flakes (Spicy!) The kids enjoyed watching the video and making the bread, but loved eating it! Thanks Chef John.

Theresa F said...

Chef John, I’ve made a number of your recipes and they are always delicious. So when this Italian woman, who has never made Irish Soda Bread, volunteered to make it for the church potluck, Food from the British Isles, I knew whose recipe I would use. I made two test loaves this morning and they are delicious. The bread is crusty on the outside with a light and moist texture inside. I will be making this bread on a regular basis. I followed the recipe to the letter. The only thing I did differently was after I cut ithe cold butter into the dry ingredients I finished working it in with my hands. Thank you for another successful Chef John recipe.

Unknown said...

So good and very easy. Very light texture,not dry, smells amazing. I've enjoyed a number of your recipes. All are successful. Even if I don't make them I enjoy watching and listening to you.

wagtechtutor@gmail.com said...

Hello, sir. I run a couple cooking clubs at an old historic library. I plan on making this this weekend for my kids cooking class and I had a thought. Could I do different flavored oatmeal? Or would that add too many extra components? I also am not sure if adding something like "maple brown sugar" oatmeal would taste okay. I just thought it might be fun to let the kids customize what type of oatmeal they put in the bread. Thanks so much for your time.

Unknown said...

Chef John,
Thank you for posting this recipe. It is simple to follow and to the point. Our bread came out perfect. A nice crisp crust, a chewy tender crumb a a nice hint of orange with the dried fruit. I will never buy Irish Soda Bread again.