Irish Soda Bread
Bake and rate
A Little History
Soda bread: brown or white is one of the great traditional Irish bread recipes; accompanying Irish meal times from fried bread in dripping with a full Irish breakfast to cream cheese and smoked sandwiches for lunch to a late night snack of cold roast ham and chutney throughout the whole country. I have listed my favourites of course but there are numerous ways to eat this substantial bread down to a good old dollop of butter and jam (another favourite). In bygone times soda bread was cooked in deep pans over an open fire. Today many homes still cook their soda bread in a pan although the stove or hob as taken over from open fires. While soda bread is an old recipe there are quiet a few abbreviations, possibly due to available ingredients different households could obtain in the olden days in Ireland.
This particular white soda bread recipe is based on an old recipe my Irish grandmother remembers her granny making at special times during the year. Times like Easter, Christmas, Old Saints Day, Birthdays and other family gatherings and celebratory occasions. The added fruit is what makes this white soda bread very special and worthy of any celebration.
Admittedly I don't wait for special occasions to make this delicious dish. In fact it's a regular on my table, although very often the loaf never gets a chance to cool down. A scattering of crumbs being the only evidence the bread ever existed in the first place.
On with the recipe. Oh! and please follow it exactly (at least the first time) to ensure a perfectly baked soda bread as promised. Changing the recipe even slightly will dramatically affect the outcome of the bread: moistness and crust especially. And don't even try to liken this loaf to a sugar and salt filled modern sliced bread of today that tastes either like air with no substance or lead that sits in your stomach for days. This is proper baked bread but without the additives. If you get it wrong it's because you didn't do what you were told to do.
White Fruit Soda Bread Recipe
Traditionally buttermilk is used instead of yogurt and milk in this recipe. I have used these substitutes simply because they are readily available to me and cheaper, plus they work a treat. The yogurt adds a softer texture to the bread and the combination of the yogurt and milk together give a moist but not a wet, dough.
I have left it optional regarding the salt as I feel it's a matter of taste. I find the dried fruit sweetens this bread perfectly but if you have a sweet tooth and would like a sweeter taste add a teaspoon of caster sugar at the same time as the fruit and salt.
- 500g of strong white flour or bread flour (plus a little extra for dusting)
- pinch of salt (optional)
- 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
- 250ml natural yogurt
- 100ml half fat milk
- 150g of dried sultanas and currants (soak overnight in tea if you have the time, drain and add as per recipe)
- Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a large deep bowl.
- Add in the salt and dried fruit, stir to mix.
- Make a well in the centre of the mixture and add in the yogurt and milk, stir to mix.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead for a minute or two.
- Mould into a rustic round shape and place on a floured baking tray.
- Using a sharp knife make a cross shape in the dough, sprinkle with a little flour.
- Place in the centre of a preheated oven, 200ºC/Gas Mark 6 for 30 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to 150ºC/Gas Mark 2 and cook for a further 20 minutes until the bread is a golden brown colour and a nice even crust has formed. When you tap the bottom of the bread there should be a hollow sound.
- If in doubt: insert a skewer to check the inside is cooked, it should come out clean.
- Wrap the soda bread in a clean tea towel and leave to cool on a wire or wood rack.
- Slice and serve with lashing of butter and apricot jam.
Cooking the white soda bread on a high heat first, helps create a firm and golden crust. Essential in this recipe for a typical Irish white soda bread.
Dusting the top of the loaf with a little extra flour just before you put it in the oven helps add a little colour to your loaf.
Remove straight from the oven and wrap in a clean t-towel. Best eaten within 24hours, although good to toast for up to 72hours (warm butter and apricot jam).
A Delicious Bread Crust: firm and golden
Baked Through: lovely and moist
Reducing the heat of the oven after 30 minutes allows the centre of the bread to continue to cook without over cooking the crust. It's crucial to cook the centre of the bread to prevent any doughy bits, however it's also crucial not to overcook the bread or it will be too dry.
Ensuring your mix is the right consistency will also prevent the bread from being too doughy. If your dough seems a little dry dampen your hands with a little tap water. If the dough is a little too wet sprinkle over some extra flour.
Storage: Freeze: Defrost:
- Store the soda bread in an airtight container or wrapped in a clean towel.
- This white fruit soda bread is best eaten fresh on the day of baking, although it's very good toasted the next day.
- This delicious loaf freezes perfectly. Once the loaf has cooled completely, cut the rounded loaf into quarters or halves and freeze each quarter or half in a freezer bag. The soda bread will freeze well for up to 6/8 weeks.
- To defrost; leave out overnight or three hours before you want it, allowing the bread to come to room temperature naturally.
- If you enjoyed this recipe, check out my brown soda bread recipe below.
Happy baking :)
Brown Soda Bread and Poached Eggs
More Bread: Brown Soda Bread Recipe as Above
- Brown Soda Bread Recipe: Step by Step With Pictures
Easy brown soda bread recipe complete with step by step instructions and pictures.
© 2011 Gabriel Wilson
Gabriel Wilson (author) from Madeira, Portugal on January 02, 2013:
Hi Magdaleine, I hope you enjoy :)
Magdaleine on January 01, 2013:
Looks so delicious, I will try to make it :)
Gabriel Wilson (author) from Madeira, Portugal on December 28, 2011:
Hi Thelma, hope you like it as much as I do :)
Thelma Alberts from Germany on December 28, 2011:
Yummy!!! I love soda bread very much especially when it is very fresh. Thanks for sharing. Voted up.