Let’s talk soda bread. Are you the type of person who screams and cringes at soda bread recipes which are loaded with add-ins such as dried fruit, orange zest, cherries or chocolate chips? Traditional Irish soda bread is basically flour, baking soda, buttermilk, and a little salt. The bread appeared in the early 1800s as a table filler, so there was definitely no other ingredients such as chocolate or fruit.
The thing is, almost every recipe has been dabbled with in some way. Take a look at Thanksgiving. I’m pretty sure the early settlers didn’t have marshmallows on top of their sweet potatoes. Shoot, I don’t even think there was sweet potatoes. Pumpkin cheesecake? Not likely.
It’s okay to throw a wrench in the works, even if it flies back out and smacks you in the face sometimes. The choice is ours to add what we like to our soda bread, but I would agree that if you made it with fruit, chocolate or bacon (?) then leave out the word “traditional.” I usually add some dried fruit just because it makes it a little more moist, which can be really needed with the bread, plus I like the added texture. Whether you add to yours or you follow the traditional version, make sure to spread some really good butter on it. Kerrygold would be my first choice as it’s from Ireland and I grew up eating it back home on everything. It costs a tiny bit more, but it puts regular butter to shame and well worth it in my opinion.
Soda bread dries out really quickly so if you don’t think you can finish all of it wrap it up and keep it in the freezer. If it gets too dry even for the freezer, check out my Irish soda bread pudding which is amazing with the leftovers!
Irish Soda Bread
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 cup dried mixed fruit
- Pinch of salt
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1 egg
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly dust a cookie tray with some flour and set aside.
- In a large bowl combine the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt. Lightly mix through with a fork.
- Add the egg to the buttermilk and whisk together until blended. Pour into the flour mixture and mix gently with your hands until the dough starts to come together. It may seem dry but it will become a ball.
- Dump the dough out onto a table dusted with some flour. Gently knead until the dough is a round ball shape.
- Lay it onto the cookie sheet dusting the top with a little more flour.
- Take a very sharp serrated knife and cut a small cross on the top of the dough.
- Place it in the oven and bake for about 35 minutes and it becomes golden brown.
- Let cool on a wire rack before slicing.