My Gran was a spitfire of a lady. Tiny in stature, her personality and ability to command a room seemed to inflate her far beyond her God-given four feet, eight inches. An Irish immigrant, she made handing down tradition part of our family DNA. Her Soda Bread? Always the best. Sometimes simple, on occasion elegant, but always made with love and good buttermilk.

There has long been heated debate about what goes into a “traditional” Irish Soda Bread. Historically speaking, Soda Bread was peasant food. Made with simple ingredients, staples that were on-hand or readily available. Rarely would you find an egg or fancy frills added.

Gran’s basic Soda Bread recipe is of the unadorned, simple sort. Great when served with a hearty stew, or slathered with butter, then drizzled in honey. Perfection itself. What I like about it most though, is that it can do double duty  as a mouthwatering canvas for kitchen creativity. For example, the folk that hail from Donegal, Ireland tend to put caraway and other seeds in their bread. This recipe holds up great to that tradition. On special occasions in our house the recipe gets dressed up with dried fruits. I’ve even made a popular version for the holidays that is packed with dark chocolate and cherries that have been soaked Jameson Whiskey and brown sugar.

Once you master this simple recipe, have fun putting your own twist on this Irish tradition. Hand down your version to your own kids. That would certainly have had my Gran’s Irish eyes smiling.

traditional irish soda bread - (cool) progeny #stpatricksday #bread #baking #coolprogeny

edith reel’s traditional irish soda bread

ingredients
  • 1.5 cups buttermilk
  • 4 cups bread flour (or all purpose flour)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
directions

Preheat oven to 425°. Combine dry ingredients in a deep mixing bowl. Gradually add in buttermilk until the dough comes together, forming a ball. Note: You may not have to use all of the buttermilk. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and form into a slightly flattened round, approximately 8 inches in diameter. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet lightly coated in butter. Cut an “X” into the top with a sharp knife, going about a 1/2 inch deep. Bake at 425° degrees for 40 minutes, or until the top is a delicious golden color.

notes

This will not be smooth, gorgeous bread perfect looking enough to take center stage on your table. It will look more like a bumpy scone. The texture is dense, much like a scone as well. If you plan to add in seeds, fruit, chocolate, or even cheese {yum!} be sure to toss those ingredients with just a bit of flour to coat them. This help them disperse in the dough and not settle all at the bottom.