O’Neill Family Traditional Irish Soda Bread
A traditional Irish soda bread passed down in my family through the generations, easily customizable with your favorite fixings, such as raisins or chocolate chips. Cooks quickly on the stovetop.
For some, the smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies or biscuits brings them back to their childhood.
Me? I think of my mom’s Irish soda bread. It’s fluffy, comforting, filling and portable — the perfect snack for every day, and especially St. Patrick’s Day! ?
This recipe has been in my family for a long time — for years and probably generations before my grandparents moved from Belfast to Los Angeles in the 1960s, in search of brighter opportunities for their family. (Shout out to the O’Neills for making it possible for me to live my best life here in the States!)
Irish soda bread holds a special place in my heart. It’s a staple in Ireland for a reason. Soda bread is simple, affordable and hearty.
This recipe is quite simple and quick. Just five ingredients, and only four are needed if you decide to omit the sugar. No yeast necessary — this recipe rises thanks to the combination of baking soda and buttermilk.
You’ll find that soda bread is often baked in the oven in one large, solid loaf. As you can see from the photos, this recipe calls for you to bake smaller portions of dough on the stove.
3 Reasons Why You’ll Love This Method
- No sitting around, waiting forever for your soda bread to bake.
- Golden crust in every bite.
- Customize for everyone in the family!
The third reason is the biggest upside, if you ask me. You can customize each portion and add chocolate chips, nuts, and even dried or fresh fruits, such as cherries, berries, craisins or raisins. Everyone in the family can pick and choose what they want inside.
No, it’s not the most authentic way to bake Irish soda bread (although many traditional soda bread recipes call for raisins). But it is VERY delicious! I’m #teamchocolatechips. It’s like a gooey, melty thick chocolate chip pancake/waffle. Just take my word for it.
My mom and I do like to make one other aberration from the traditional recipe: the addition of sugar. This is 100% optional, but I prefer to make soda bread this way because it cuts back on the baking soda flavor a bit.
How To Serve Soda Bread
Soda bread is commonly served with tea at breakfast, or as a side dish for soups and stews. I find myself munching on this as a snack all day long.
Here are some ways you might serve it:
- Honey butter (my favorite!)
- Butter and jam/jelly (my mom’s favorite)
- Maple syrup drizzle
- Clotted cream
Soda Bread Ingredients
- Baking soda
- Add-ins such as fruit or chocolate (optional)
See how pretty it looks with raisins?!
Possible Soda Bread Add-ins
- Chocolate chips
- Dried raisins
- Dried figs
- Crystalized ginger
- Crushed walnuts
Look at those melty chocolate chips ?
First, sift the flour and baking soda together in a bowl, then stir in your salt and sugar. Make a hole in the center of the flour and add buttermilk. Now’s the time to toss in any add-ins, if you plan to use them. Be careful not to over-stir.
You want the dough to form a large crumb, and it might look kinda flakey in some areas. This should happen shortly after the dough starts to just come together. See the photo for what I’m talking about.
Flour your hands and a working surface well. Scoop the dough onto your working surface and form into a ball. Pay attention to how the dough is feeling: Is it sticking to your floured fingers? That means it’s a tad bit too wet and you’ll need to add more flour. Is the dough not really coming together despite your best efforts to squish into a ball? It might need a teeny bit more buttermilk.
Using a floured rolling pin (a wine bottle with the label removed works), roll each dough ball out into a circle, approximately a half-inch thick. Cut each circle into quarters with a knife.
Place a thin layer of flour in a pan and place it under medium heat. Cast iron is your BFF here!
When the pan is hot, add soda bread quarters into the pan and cook for 5 minutes on each side, until golden brown. You may also cook the ends of the slices too, if you want a golden brown all around. If the pieces don’t stand tall on their own, you can always prop them up against the edges of the pan.
Irish Soda Bread Recipe
- rolling pin (or wine bottle with label removed)
- working surface
- 2 c. flour
- 1 c. buttermilk
- 2 tsps baking soda
- 3 tbsp. Sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 c. add-ins e.g. dried fruit, nuts, chocolate chips
- Sift flour and baking soda together in a medium bowl. Add salt and sugar, and mix together.
- Make a hole in the center of the dry flour. Add buttermilk and toppings, if desired. Using a spatula, gently turn over in the bowl until dough just starts to come together. It should form a large crumb — if not, add another ½ tablespoon of flour.
- Flour your hands and a working surface well. Scoop the dough onto your working surface and form into a ball. Cut dough in half with a sharp knife. Note: If your dough is sticking to your fingers, you might try adding more flour to your hands or kneading more flour into the dough.
- Using a floured rolling pin (a wine bottle with the label removed works), roll each dough ball out into a circle, approximately a half-inch thick. Cut each circle into quarters with your knife.
- Place a thin layer of flour in a pan and bring under medium heat (cast iron works really well with breads). When the pan is hot, add soda bread quarters into the pan and cook for 5 minutes on each side, until golden brown. You may also cook the ends of the slices too, if you want a golden brown all around.
More Baked Goods:
- Quick Herbed Olive Dinner Bread
- Roasted Garlic + Rosemary Bread
- Peaches + Cream Loaf
- Passionfruit Olive Oil Cake
- Persimmon Tart with Cinnamon + Orange Marmalade
- Zucchini Bread Muffins
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