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Irish Soda Bread

Hearty Irish soda bread is easy to make. It's welcome any time of year but is essential on St. Patrick's Day.

  • Yield: Makes 1 loaf
Irish Soda Bread

Source: Martha Stewart Living, March 2009

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups whole milk
  • 1/3 cup apple-cider vinegar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface and dusting
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup unprocessed wheat bran
  • 1/4 cup caraway seeds
  • 1 cup (5 ounces) raisins
  • Salted butter, preferably Irish, for serving

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Mix milk and vinegar in a small bowl, and let stand until thickened, about 5 minutes.

  2. Whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. Cut in unsalted butter with a pastry cutter or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add bran, caraway seeds, and raisins; stir to distribute.

  3. Pour milk mixture into flour mixture; stir until dough just holds together but is still sticky. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Pat and press the dough gently into a round, dome-shaped loaf, about 7 inches in diameter. Transfer to prepared sheet.

  4. Lightly dust top of loaf with flour. With a sharp knife, cut an X into the top, 3/4 inch deep. Bake, rotating halfway through, until loaf is golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour, 10 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Soda bread is best eaten the day it is made; serve with salted butter.

Reviews (24)

  • jennynib 9 Mar, 2013

    My Gran would probably say that was 'a bit fancy' for proper soda! Here's the family ressup:
    1lb plain flour
    1 tsp soda
    1 tspn salt
    1 tsp sugar
    buttermilk

    Mix the dry with your hands (no spoons! good bread goes straight to the heart and a mother always holds her family's hearts in her hands) add enough buttermilk to make a soft, not overly mixed dough. Knead gently into a rough round and mark a cross on top (Give us this day our daily bread). Bake 15 mins at 230C and 30 mins at 200C. Sláinte!!

  • DeboraHarv614 14 Mar, 2012

    "The Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread at www.sodabread.info points out strenuously that real soda bread was plain day-to-day food and had no embellishments at all...
    Common variations of soda bread containing sugar, butter or anyfat, eggs or dried fruit, they say, do not qualify as soda bread but are more properly referred to as fruit bread, spotted dog or railway cake."
    My Irish Grandmother loved real soda bread.. no embellishments.. slathered in butter.

  • k81monte 8 Mar, 2012

    You can use any acid, like lemon juice to thicken milk. I always use buttermilk because that's what my family in Accony, Co Mayo always do. And omit the bran- totally not authentic. My mam likes carroway seeds; I do not.

    The "X" in the soda bread allows for expansion while baking but, of course, is not an X. but a cross, because the cross will keep the Devil away.

    Back on the auld sod, raisins were not always easy or cheap to come by so often this bread was made with none at all.

  • ustabahippie 10 Mar, 2011

    I, too, have been making soda bread with buttermilk for many years. I use vegetable oil instead of butter. Always comes out great, and I love it with caraway and raisins.

  • katymorag 3 Mar, 2011

    Been making Soda Bread for 30 years. No butter or raisins. Also buttermilk is used.
    Raisins are added to give variety but not on a daily basis. The cider vinegar added to the milk is a substitute for buttermilk. Soda Bread can be served with crispy rashers of Bacon and that is delicious. Katy Morag

  • MarthaandMeBlogger 12 Oct, 2010

    I really liked this. It's very different from my family recipe, but I love how it is sort of humbler and more peasant like. You can see my results here: http://marthaandme.wordpress.com/2009/03/17/st-pattys-day-blowout/

  • Ijustlovetosew 11 Mar, 2010

    I would love to have irlandaca's recipe for Irish soda bread. Can we send emails to each other?

  • irlandaca 10 Mar, 2010

    :(
    Irish soda bread has absolutey no butter in it, and no baking powder either. The caraway seeds and the raisins were used only very sparingly as a treat, but they are not traditional either...

  • irlandaca 10 Mar, 2010

    :(
    Irish soda bread has absolutey no butter in it, and no baking powder either. The caraway seeds and the raisins were used only very sparingly as a treat, but they are not traditional either...

  • Ramina 2 Mar, 2010

    Why the dough was too sticky to handle?

  • bethmclaughlin 18 Mar, 2009

    Very impressed in our house, full of flavor!

  • turtlegrins 18 Mar, 2009

    Apparently this bread is really versatile too! I didn't have wheat bran, so I substituted a cup of rolled oats, and used cardamom in place of caraway, and it still turned out great! Mine was too salty, but I didn't think to decrease the salt since I was using salted butter. Otherwise it sounds like you can't make a bad batch of this bread!

  • celdry 18 Mar, 2009

    This is a fantastic bread! Yeast Free! Kneed Free! and I made mine Dairy Free. I'm allergic to cow Milk so I used unsweetened vanilla Almond Milk the very same way and non dairy butter. I didn't have wheat bran and just used wheat flour and didn't used raisins... the caraway seeds are a MUST! Delicious!!!! Thanks Martha Team!!!

  • kbgtm 17 Mar, 2009

    This recipe is so easy! and delicious! Thanks greenEm as well- I used the flax instead and it was perfect! I did not add raisins or cranberries, and it was still delicious!

  • greenEm 15 Mar, 2009

    Yummy- this bread is very good! I made a couple changes- I used ground flax seed instead of the bran and cranberries instead of raisins ( do not care for raisins)

  • terrie-bear 13 Mar, 2009

    Martha also has this soda bread recipe without raisins:
    http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/favorite-irish-soda-bread?rsc=also_try

  • audge 13 Mar, 2009

    My usual recipe for soda bread has raisins in it.

  • marym 13 Mar, 2009

    My sister in law is from Ireland. She and her sisters (all 9 of them) make the best soda bread and scones, that I have ever eaten. She does use raisins, but not a cup full. She sprinkles a couple of handfuls and that's it. Also, plain white flour. None of this healthy bran stuff. No caraway seeds either. And here's the funny thing. No butter. She and her sister use margarine. Maybe it's all they could afford, but I figure (and they must think this way too) don't mess with success.

  • KdonnRN 13 Mar, 2009

    Did anyone make this recipe with OR without the raisins and was it good?

  • Suzngr 10 Mar, 2009

    SaraAutumn: So leave the raisins out! I use candied fruit like you use in fruitcake.

  • Suzngr 10 Mar, 2009

    SaraAutumn: So leave the raisins out! I use candied fruit like you use in fruitcake.

  • SaraAutumn 9 Mar, 2009

    I am SOOOO tired of Irish Soda Bread recipes with raisins! When I lived in Ireland not one loaf did I buy on a day to day basis that had raisins in it. The only time of year that soda bread had raisins (and little charms) in it was at Halloween and it was called "Barmbrack." Please, there are no raisins in daily soda bread!

  • SaraAutumn 9 Mar, 2009

    I am SOOOO tired of Irish Soda Bread recipes with raisins! When I lived in Ireland not one loaf did I buy on a day to day basis that had raisins in it. The only time of year that soda bread had raisins (and little charms) in it was at Halloween and it was called "Barmbrack." Please, there are no raisins in daily soda bread!

  • WmRichmond 9 Mar, 2009

    I pre-tested this recipe before my upcoming St. Patrick's Day dinner. I couldn't find unprocessed wheat bran. What would be a substitute?

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