Irish soda bread (classic and cranberry-orange)

Soda bread is the ultimate quick bread – from mixing bowl to oven in mere minutes, and a warm crusty loaf in no time. In Ireland, soda bread is a four-ingredient staple (flour, buttermilk, baking soda, salt), but the American version is generally richer, sweeter and flavored with dried fruit and/or caraway seeds. Cranberry-orange recipe adapted from Ina Garten.

Classic soda bread ingredients

  • 2 cups flour (white, whole wheat or a mix; I like half/half)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/2 teaspoon table salt)
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Classic soda bread preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, add flour, baking soda (make sure baking soda has no clumps) and salt. Use a fork to stir.
  3. Pour in buttermilk and stir until dough is fully mixed (it will be sticky). Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Lightly dust flour on top and use your hands to pat the dough into a circular shape with a rounded top.
  4. Use a flat spatula to help transfer the dough to a cast-iron pan or baking sheet (a seasoned cast iron pan should not need any additional greasing, but you may want to lightly grease an uncoated baking sheet or use parchment paper to prevent sticking). Use a sharp knife to cut a large X in the top of the loaf (this helps the loaf keep its shape without cracking).
  5. Bake until top is golden brown and dry looking, about 30-35 minutes. If the dough looks wet/sticky in the X cutout, it needs a few more minutes to cook through.
  6. Cool loaf on a wire rack. Bread is just as wonderful warm or toasted the next day.

Cranberry-orange soda bread ingredients (double-size loaf)

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon table salt)
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold butter, cubed
  • 1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
  • 1 egg
  • Orange zest from 1 large orange (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (or currants/raisins)

Cranberry-orange soda bread preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, add flour, sugar, baking soda (make sure baking soda has no clumps) and salt. Add cubed butter and use your fingers to rub the butter into the flour until you no longer see chunks of butter.
  3. Use a fork to mix together buttermilk, egg and orange zest until egg is well mixed in. Pour into dry ingredients and stir with fork until well mixed (it will be very sticky). Mix a bit of flour in with the cranberries and stir into dough.
  4. Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface. Lightly dust flour on top and use your hands to pat the dough into a circular shape with a rounded top.
  5. Use a flat spatula to help transfer the dough to a cast-iron pan (at least a 10″ diameter) or baking sheet (a seasoned cast iron pan should not need any additional greasing, but you may want to lightly grease an uncoated baking sheet or use parchment paper to prevent sticking). Use a sharp knife to cut a large X in the top of the loaf (this helps the loaf keep its shape without cracking).
  6. Bake until top is golden brown and dry looking, 45-55 minutes. If the dough looks wet/sticky in the X cutout, it needs a few more minutes to cook through (you can also test with toothpick, but it will of course not reach through the loaf).
  7. Cool loaf on a wire rack. Bread is just as wonderful warm or toasted the next day.

Notes

  • Buttermilk substitutes: for 1 cup buttermilk, combine 1 scant cup milk with 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice; for 1 3/4 cups buttermilk, combine 1 2/3 cups buttermilk with 5 teaspoons white vinegar or lemon juice. You may also use plain yogurt thinned with enough milk to a pourable consistency.
  • Traditional soda bread recipe can be doubled to make an extra-large loaf (fills a 10″ cast iron skillet; bake for 45-55 minutes). And the cranberry-orange soda bread dough can be split two smaller loaves (bake for 30-35 minutes).
  • To make a single-size cranberry-orange loaf: if you don’t want to bother with a half-egg, you can simply use 1 cup of buttermilk and omit the egg entirely. To make a half-recipe with the egg, use 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of buttermilk, and 2 tablespoons of a beaten egg.
  • If you prefer your bread in a loaf shape, you can plop the dough into a buttered loaf pan. Traditional soda bread recipe makes a single loaf; cranberry-orange recipe makes two loaves.
  • Other variations: try currants or raisins; or add a tablespoon of caraway seeds (2 tablespoons for double-size).
  • Stovetop cooking: flatten dough to 1/2-inch thick and cut into wedges. Cook 6-8 minutes per side over medium-low heat.

Here’s a link back to the post and pictures.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment