Irish Soda Bread is a quick bread made without yeast. This version is dense, buttery, and really good plain or with a little butter spread on each slice. I make it every year on St. Patrick’s Day, sometimes 2-3 loaves. Each year since my sophomore year in college, I’ve also thrown a St. Patrick’s Day party, or some variation thereof.
Each one has been memorable in its own way. One included a guest walking nine miles home after the party lasted into the night. One included birds drunk off of fermented berries flying into windows. One preceded the pandemic and things closing down by 1 day. One included prepared to go meals delivered to friends and neighbors. They all included Irish Soda Bread, and they all have brought me joy, decked out in green!
We've also taken a tour of St. James Gate, the Guinness Brewery when visiting Ireland. On one of the large support beams inside the brewery it states, "Everyone is Irish on March 17th."
This bread is not dry or crumbly. Its flavorful and buttery, almost like a good flaky biscuit. I always skip adding raisins or currents because I prefer it without them, but you could always toss some into the batter if you like.
Notes on Irish Soda Bread:
Add as little flour as possible to shape the dough into a round ball, this helps the bread from becoming dry and crumbly. Also this bread does not need to be kneaded, just shape gently into a ball with your hands after turning it out onto the counter.
Notes on St. Patrick's Day Dinner:
- We always serve corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, and Irish Soda Bread on St. Patrick's Day. Sometimes we will also buy and serve rye bread.
- The best way to ensure that the corned beef turns out well is to get a good quality cut of meat. Locally, that means getting it from a store called Stew Leonards, but second to that Costco usually has really good corned beef. I've never tried making corned beef myself, but perhaps a fun project in the future.
- Fill a large pot with water, add any seasoning packet, and boil 1 hour per pound of beef. We usually select one that is 3-4 pounds and therefore cook it for 3-4 hours.
- At the end of the 4 hours we remove the corned beef and let cool before slicing. Then we skim off any fat, seasoning etc so that you are just left with the cooking liquid in the pot. Then we add peeled potatoes cut into large pieces and boil for about 30 min. We also add carrots, boil for 20 minutes, and cabbage, boil for 15 minutes. We do this so that we add the carrots after the potatoes have cooked for 10 minutes and add the cabbage after the carrots have cooked for 5 minutes, and then take everything out of the pot at the same time.
- I also love to add some green food coloring to milk or water for the kids like my mom did when we were little, and green beer for the adults!
- Any leftovers (corned beef, potatoes, and carrots) can be made into corned beef hash the next morning (or weekend morning) for breakfast.
Irish Soda Bread
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsps baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 4 tbsps butter, softened
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 tbsp butter, melted
- Preheat the oven to 375°F
- In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. Add the butter, egg, and buttermilk and combine until roughly the shape of a ball.
- Turn out on the counter and using as little extra flour as possible, shape into a round ball and place onto a baking sheet.
- Brush the melted butter on top and sprinkle with a little bit of sugar.
- Score the top creating an X with a sharp knife.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick stuck into the middle comes out clean.