A simple, easy recipe for sourdough Irish soda bread made with tangy sourdough discard.Slightly sweet with a hint of butter!
What Is Irish Soda Bread?
In America, we know Irish soda bread as a slightly sweet, raisin-studded quick bread served with corned beef and cabbage, the official feast of St. Patrick’s Day. The texture is dense and hearty, similar to a scone (not actual bread), since it’s made without commercial yeast.
In Ireland however, old school soda bread was a bit more simplistic. Made with just 4 ingredients (soft wheat flour, baking soda, sour milk and salt) it was enjoyed year round with soups, stews, and served warm with tea. More interesting facts here.
Like most recipes I suppose, it became modernized over time to include butter, sugar, citrus zest and even eggs. I happen to like these modernized versions, with tangy sourdough for flavor and texture, and couldn’t imagine St. Patrick’s Day without it!
You Will Need
How to Make It
In a stand mixer, combine the dry ingredients, followed by the wet ingredients. The dough will come together in under 10 minutes! If you do not have a mixer, it can be done by hand too, with a little elbow grease.
Note: after mixing, the texture will be slightly sticky- this is normal (see images below). I use King Arthur All Purpose Flour because it absorbs more liquid than regular all purpose flour, but any all purpose flour will do. You can always add more flour as needed to adjust the texture.
Once you’re done with the dough, shape it into a ball, cut a large X on top, and bake @ 375 F for 45-55 minutes. Done!
Irish Soda Bread Tips
Irish Soda bread is easier to cut into thick wedges, rather than slices- it’s too crumbly. Use a large serrated knife.
A chemical reaction takes place between the buttermilk + baking soda during baking; it makes the dough rise. For best results, I do not recommend non-dairy substitutions.
For a sweeter, softer, cake-like version: use 400 g Tipo 00 flour (this is a fine milled soft wheat flour) and the zest of 1/2 orange. Great with coffee!
Use Kerrygold butter for extra richness and color.
Traditional Irish soda bread did not contain sourdough. However, the addition is a practical and tasty upgrade. Here’s why.
Flavor: Sourdough adds a unique depth of flavor to any baked good. When combined with baking soda, the sour notes actually neutralize- the soda bread will not taste sour.
Preservation: The naturally occurring acids in sourdough act as a built-in preservative. The acids enhance the texture, tenderizing the crumb. I use about 1 full cup of sourdough discard for Irish soda bread. It works beautifully.
60 g (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes
1 large egg
170 g (appx. 3/4 cup) buttermilk
200 g (appx. 1 cup) sourdough starter discard (see notes)
150 g (1 cup) raisins
Volume measurements are in US cups.
If you do not have buttermilk, use 3/4 cup milk + 1 scant tablespoon fresh lemon juice.
My sourdough discard is 100% hydration. This means it’s made up of equal parts flour and water by weight, and has a thick, batter-like texture. Your starter might be a different hydration % which is fine.
Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter, a few cubes at a time, and mix until incorporated.
Lightly beat the egg, buttermilk, and sourdough discard together in a separate bowl.
Woking in batches, gradually pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture.
Add the raisins. Mix to combine; the dough will be slightly wet and sticky.
Scoop the dough onto a well floured surface. Knead it a few times into a round ball. With a serrated knife, cut an “x” into the top.
Bake on the center rack for 45-55 minutes. If necessary, cover the loaf with foil at the 40 minute mark to prevent over browning. The soda bread is finished when a toothpick (or spaghetti strand!) comes out clean when inserted. The bottom should sound hollow when you give it a knock.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
With a serrated knife, cut into wedges (much easier than slices), and serve warm or at room temperature with butter. Soda bread is best enjoyed on the same day it’s made.
Keywords: Irish soda bread, Ina Garten, simple recipe, easy, sourdough discard recipe, sourdough starter
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