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3 Irish Soda Bread Recipes: White, Brown and Sultana

Author:

L.M. Reid is an Irish writer who has published many recipe articles. She has a keen interest in creating delicious recipes and dinner ideas.

Irish soda bread with sultanas recipe

Irish soda bread with sultanas recipe

How to Make Irish Soda Bread

In this article, I will share step-by-step instructions and photos so that you can make this delicious bread anytime. I've included recipes for three soda bread variations:

  1. Brown
  2. White
  3. Sultana

I have also included a video of my 85-year-old mother making the bread.

Recipe 1: Brown Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces/450 grams plain brown flour
  • 1 level teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 pint/350 ml buttermilk
  • 1 level teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces/110 grams soft margarine
Mix the ingredients together with your fingers, lifting slightly in the air as you do so.

Mix the ingredients together with your fingers, lifting slightly in the air as you do so.

Step 1: Mix the Dry Ingredients

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 Fahrenheit or gas mark nine. Lightly grease your chosen tin.
  2. Into a large bowl sieve the flour, and then add the salt and baking soda. Mix these ingredients together with your fingers, lifting slightly in the air as you do so.
  3. This gives the best result because it allows the air to pass through the mixture naturally. Put in the margarine and mix with your fingers until the mixture is crumbly.
  4. Do not use a mixer for this process because you will find your soda bread will taste heavy. This is because the air has not had enough time to mix in with the ingredients.

Step 2: Mix the Wet Ingredients

  1. Make a hole in the centre of the mixture and add half the amount of buttermilk. Mix in with a wooden spoon. Gradually add in the remainder of the milk.
  2. Once the milk has been blended with the dry ingredients it is time to finish off the mixing with your hands. You are aiming to achieve a light, soft dough, sticky but not too wet.
  3. On a wooden board sprinkle a generous amount of flour. Sprinkle a little flour onto the top of your mixture in the basin to allow for easy removal. Tip out the finished mixture on to the board.

Step 3: Knead the Dough

  1. You will have to lightly knead the dough for about one minute. Cover your hands with flour, as this helps with the process. If the dough gets too sticky, add more flour to the mixture.
  2. Once this process is finished, add a sprinkling of flour on top of the dough. Put into your tin. Most people like to use the traditional round shape. I have been taught by my mother to use an oblong shape tin, so this method is what I use.

Step 4: Make the Cross

The last important step before baking the bread is the cross. Using a large knife, cut down and across to make a deep cut in the dough. When the bread is cooked, this cross will have separated the bread so that it is very easy to break the bread into four quarters, making it easier to cut into slices and for storage and freezing.

Lightly knead the dough for about one minute.

Lightly knead the dough for about one minute.

Step 5: Bake the Bread in the Oven

  1. Bake in the preheated oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes.
  2. Turn down the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit for the remaining 30 minutes.
  3. Have a clean wet tea cloth ready for when you are about to remove the soda bread from the oven.
  4. If you bake this bread often, it is advisable to have a plastic bowl and a few tea towels exclusively for this purpose.

How Do You Know When It Is Baked?

It should look lightly brown on top. Before removing it from the oven you can test it by inserting a large knife into the centre. If it comes out dry then it is cooked. Bring the tin over to the wet tea towel and tip out on to it.

If this is your first time baking soda bread and you are not too sure if it is cooked then once it is removed from the baking tin you can tap the underneath lightly, if it sounds hollow then it is ready. This should also be lightly brown in colour and firm.

As quickly as you can wrap the wet tea towel around the hot soda bread and leave standing up against the wall or on a wire tray until cool. This will trap the flavour in and keep the bread soft while it cools.

Recipe 2: White Irish Soda Bread

To make white Irish soda bread:

  1. Substitute 12 ounces/340 grams of brown flour with the same amount of white flour.
  2. Prepare and bake as above.

Recipe 3: Irish Soda Bread With Sultanas

  • 16 ounces/450 grams plain white flour
  • 1 level teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 pint/350 ml buttermilk
  • 1 level teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces/110 grams soft margarine
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 5 ounces/140 grams sultanas
  • 1 large egg

Step 1: Mix the Dry Ingredients

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 Fahrenheit /Gas Mark 9.
  2. Lightly grease your chosen tin.
  3. Into a large bowl sieve the flour, and then add the salt, baking soda, sugar and sultanas.
  4. Mix these ingredients together with your fingers, lifting slightly in the air.
  5. This gives the best result because it allows the air to pass through the mixture naturally.
  6. Put in the margarine and mix with your fingers until the mixture is crumbly.

Step 2: Add the Wet Ingredients

  1. Add the egg and half the buttermilk into a small dish and whisk gently with a fork.
  2. Make a hole in the centre of the mixture and add this to it.
  3. Mix in with a wooden spoon. Gradually add in the remainder of the buttermilk.
  4. Once the milk has been blended with the dry ingredients it is time to finish off the mixing with your hands. You are aiming to achieve a light, soft dough, sticky but not too wet.
  5. On a wooden board sprinkle a generous amount of flour.
  6. Sprinkle a little flour onto the top of your mixture in the basin to allow for easy removal.
  7. Tip out the finished mixture on to the board.

Step 3: Knead the Dough and Make the Cross

  1. Lightly knead the dough.
  2. You will have to lightly knead the dough for about one minute.
  3. Cover your hands with flour as this helps with the process. If the dough gets too sticky add more flour to the mixture.
  4. Once this process is finished add a sprinkling of flour on top of the dough.
  5. Knead until you have a nice shaped ball.
  6. The last important step before baking the Irish Soda Bread is the cross. Using a large knife cut down and across to make a deep cut in the dough.

When the bread is cooked this cross will have separated the bread so that it is very easy to break the soda bread in to four quarters.

Step 4: Bake the Bread

  1. Bake in the preheated oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes.
  2. Turn down the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit for the remaining 30 minutes.
  3. Have a clean wet tea cloth ready for when you are about to remove the loaf from the oven.
  4. Check on the loaf to see if it is cooked. It should look lightly brown on top.
  5. Before removing it from the oven you can test it by inserting a large knife into the centre.
  6. If it comes out dry then it is cooked.
  7. Bring the tin over to the wet tea towel and tip out on to it.
  8. Once removed from the oven tap the underneath lightly, if it sounds hollow then it is ready. This should also be lightly brown in colour and firm.

The sultana soda bread can be covered with butter and jam for a delicious snack. By pouring hot custard over the sultana bread you have a very quick and tasty dessert.

Make the cross: Using a large knife, cut down and across to make a deep cut in the dough.

Make the cross: Using a large knife, cut down and across to make a deep cut in the dough.

How Long Does Soda Bread Keep?

For the best flavour and taste it is always eaten the same day. Once it has cooled down enough to cut, then slice it up and spread on butter. You can also add jam or honey. Another very popular use in Ireland for this bread is at breakfast time.

After frying an egg, rasher, tomatoes and sausage on the pan add a little bit of oil to the pan and cook for about 15 seconds, until the bread is lightly brown. This soaks up all the flavours of the rashers, tomatoes and sausages.

Freezing Soda Bread

This bread freezes very well, so if it is not going to be eaten that day prepare it for the freezer. It is always best to do this as soon as the bread is cool enough because the freshness is then frozen.

You can either wrap a quarter piece of the loaf in a freezer bag and freeze whole or you can cut up in slices and wrap two slices in each piece of cling film. Once removed from the freezer and put in the microwave to defrost it is as fresh as if it has just come out of the oven.

Irish Soda Bread Recipe

Irish Soda Bread Recipe

Questions & Answers

Question: What are sultanas?

Answer: Sultanas are dried grapes that are added when baking cakes. They are called raisons in the USA and Canada

Comments

L M Reid (author) from Ireland on July 27, 2020:

Hello Sheedydun, Yes I have done that now. It is more a generation thing with me lol. When I was growing up we only had inches etc so sometimes I forget to convert it.

sheedydun on July 26, 2020:

Thanks for these recipes, but could you please put all measurements also in the metric system, as that is the one used by millions of Europeans, including the Irish.

L M Reid (author) from Ireland on June 18, 2020:

Hello Tom. You can substitute buttermilk by adding 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a cup of milk. Stir it well and let stand for 5 minutes.

Tom Foudy on June 16, 2020:

HOW AM i to get butter milk in Mexico ,maybe I, LL chop up some and blend with some milk[ I have not had soda bread for 50 years.

L M Reid (author) from Ireland on September 22, 2019:

Hello Bernadette, thanks for that tip on making buttermilk for my Irish Soda Bread Recipe, I did not know you could do that.

Bernadette Corcoran on August 17, 2019:

Make ur own buttermilk! One tbsp. White vinegar to one cup milk and let stand for ten mins. Works perfectly!

Thelma Alberts from Germany and Philippines on May 18, 2016:

I have not eaten soda bread for a long time. I have to bake this bread again.

Christine from Dublin on September 30, 2015:

Oh ok I'll have to get me some buttermilk so

Thank you :-)

L M Reid (author) from Ireland on September 28, 2015:

Hello Garlic Angel. No ordinary milk will not do, sorry

Christine from Dublin on September 28, 2015:

Hi

I was wondering is it possible to substitute the butter milk with normal milk for the soda bread ?

L M Reid (author) from Ireland on February 23, 2015:

Thank you teamsheperd for your kind comments about my recipes. most of the are easy to make and I do enjoy cooking and baking

Natasa Shepherd on February 17, 2015:

I think I will stop going through your hubs for today, they are very tempting. You do such a wonderful job with everything from instructions to pictures! I have bookmarked a number of your recipes.

L M Reid (author) from Ireland on May 01, 2012:

My mothers recipe for Irish Soda Bread really is easy to make. She makes a few of each and then freezes it so her and dad always have some on hand when they want it.

Thank you everyone for taking the time to leave a comment, voting and sharing

Lisa from Tennessee on February 28, 2012:

I think I'll have to try this! I've never made bread before, but it looks so good, I at least have to try! Voted up, useful, and awesome!

Thanks for SHARING! SOCIALLY SHARED!

David Stillwell from Sacramento, California on December 30, 2011:

Wow, what a great hub! So useful too! beautifully presented and clear... thank you for sharing this!

Thelma Alberts from Germany and Philippines on September 13, 2011:

I love Irish Soda bread. It is very delicious especially when they are fresh.Thanks for sharing. Bookmark for later use.

StrictlyQuotes from Australia on September 09, 2011:

Yummo! I love Irish Soda Bread so much, and can't get it here in Australia, so I'm going to give some of your recipes a try. Great detail in your Hub, good to know how you can freeze it etc... Now you've made me hungry...

Wendy Henderson from Cape Coral on September 09, 2011:

I love irish soda bread!

marimccants on September 09, 2011:

That might be delicious, viking305.

jandee from Liverpool.U.K on December 08, 2010:

Must get back to eating soda bread again ,healthy (no yeast) thanks for that, from jandee

Arlecchino from Top of the Cloud on October 25, 2010:

Do you think you made me hungry? - No, I'm starving now! Unique recipe and step by step description! Thumb up!

Lisa HW from Massachusetts on August 25, 2010:

I was glad to see this Hub. I love Irish soda bread, but the only time I get to have any is when St. Patrick's Day is coming, and my local grocery store makes sure to have it (until a couple of days past the 7th).

SteveoMc from Pacific NorthWest on July 09, 2010:

So now I must make soda bread. Thanks.

film critic on July 08, 2010:

Awesome! I forgot how much I liked Irish Soda Bread with a good cup of tea.

Christine from Dublin on May 21, 2010:

That is a great hub viking and very well explained.. I am going to give it a go... I will come back and let you know how I get on...

Thanks for sharing it...

Garlic Angel :-)

L M Reid (author) from Ireland on May 12, 2010:

Thanks for your comment casangel, Yes fried soda bread with fried egg and tomoto. Gooseberry jam is lovely on the hot sultana soda bread

Casangel on May 12, 2010:

mmmmuuuuuyyyy, I love it fried and salted, the best...thank you for sultana soda bread , I will try that next...

L M Reid (author) from Ireland on May 04, 2010:

yes, thanks itakins for reading the hub

itakins from Irl on May 03, 2010:

Delicious bread-I know it well:)

Jaypyramid on May 01, 2010:

Mmmmm, soda bread, my mother used to make it all the time. My favorite was when it was fryed with the breakfast. I haven't made it for ages but after reading this, I'll be making it soon. I love the photo of the sultana soda bread.

L M Reid (author) from Ireland on May 01, 2010:

Thank you BjBenson. Christine and Christine 777 for your comments. It is worth giving a try because the soda bread really does taste wonderful And it is a great recipe to share with the children, they can join in and 'help' while having some great fun.

christine777 from Dublin.... on May 01, 2010:

Very easy to follow instructions thanks...

Christine on May 01, 2010:

Love it,, must give it a try .....

Well done yet again....

BJBenson from USA on April 30, 2010:

I can smell it cooking right now in the oven. I will try this soon. You make it sound easy. Thank you for this gift of love from you.