Traditionally, Irish sodabread is made with only 4 ingredients: flour, baking soda (rising agent instead of yeast), soured milk (aka buttermilk, the acidity activates the baking soda), and salt. Also, people didn’t have oven so soda breads were cooked on griddles or inside pots. That characteristic cross on every loaf is there for 2 reasons 1) to let the evils out 2) to allow the bread to stretch as it rises during baking 3) to symbolize a cross during Christian holidays
In Ireland, soda bread is something you find year round at bakeries. In the U.S. you only ever find it around St. Patrick’s Days, unfortunately, because this stuff is soooo goood!!! Here, the soda breads you find are slightly sweet, have additional ingredients like raisins, caraway seeds, and orange zest, and these are called “spotted dog”. If you’ve never had Irish soda bread, you really should try this recipe. It is very easy (albeit very sticky and messy) and is good as breakfast/snack/dessert/part of your St. Patrick’s cabbage and corned beef celebrateion before going out to drink 🙂
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 6 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter, very cold cut into small pieces
- 1 egg
- 1¾ cups buttermilk
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 1 cup raisins
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix dry ingredients flour, baking soda, sugar, and salt. With the paddle attachment on, add the butter and mix until you no longer see chunks.
- Add the egg and some of the buttermilk. Continue mixing on low speed until all the buttermilk is incorporated.
- Add orange zest and raisins. The dough is sticky and messy and thats normal.
- Scrape the dough onto a generously floured surface. Divide the dough into 2 if you want smaller loaves, and shape into circles. Place the 2 loaves onto baking sheets and score a cross with a serrated or very sharp knife onto each.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a wooden skewer comes out clean.
- Cool loaves on a baking rack, and enjoy warm with butter