Rosemary Irish Soda Bread takes the classic crusty bread, and brings its to a whole new level with the addition of fresh rosemary!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Are you wearing green? Making a traditional corn beef and cabbage dinner? Even if you aren’t going all out with a traditional Irish meal, I think you should make some Irish Soda Bread. Do you have a bread-baking phobia? Fear not! This is another SUPER EASY recipe! Soda Bread gets it’s leavening from baking soda, so no yeast involved here. That means, in about an hour you will have a loaf of hot homemade bread on your dinner table! Oh yes…that’s the way to celebrate!
While I was looking for soda bread recipes, I decided to look up how Irish Soda Bread got started. So here’s your little history lesson for today. (Feel free to skip to the next paragraph if you want, but the history is quite interesting).
Irish Soda Bread came about from the type of wheat that was grown in Ireland. The climate there allowed only lower protein flour to grow. The soft flour that comes from this wheat can’t create gluten like traditional yeast bread, but it works well with baking soda. Traditional Irish Soda Bread contains only four ingredients: flour, buttermilk, baking soda and salt; all inexpensive ingredients that were readily available on the farm. Some even go so far as to argue that the very first bread recipes omitted the salt, thus using only three ingredients. Since most farms didn’t have ovens, the bread was cooked in a cast iron Dutch oven or on a griddle. The signature cross that is cut on the top before baking is said to ward off the devil and bring good luck. The cuts in the top actually serve the baking science purpose of helping the bread to rise and not be too dense. OK, enough with the history lesson..onto today’s recipe.
There are lots of variations for basic soda bread. They all start with those four basic ingredients. The baking soda and buttermilk are vital for the rising and flavor. The buttermilk gives the loaf a bit of a tangy flavor and when the acid from the buttermilk meets the baking soda, it creates a chemical reaction that makes the bread rise. From the basic recipe, you can mix it up by adding sugar, currants, raisins, caraway seeds, cheese or herbs. (But beware..if you start adding any of these other ingredients, you might run into some trouble if you still call it “Irish” Soda Bread). I was aiming for a loaf that was slightly sweet, contained raisins and then added some rosemary to enhance the flavor. It might not be “traditional” Irish Soda Bread in the truest sense of the word, but the flavor is amazing!
So head to the kitchen and mix up a loaf for your St. Patty’s Day celebrations! It’s perfect, hot from the oven and slathered with butter. And try to save a little for breakfast the next day. It’s great toasted! Happy Baking!
Tips and Trick for Your Best Baking:
- If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make a substitute by mixing whole or 2% milk with 5 teaspoons vinegar or lemon juice; let stand 5 minutes before using.
- Do not over-mix or over-knead the dough; over-working=tough bread.
- For truer traditional soda bread, omit raisins and rosemary.
- Instead of raisins, golden raisins, raisins, dried blueberries or currants can be substituted.
- Be sure to cut a cross in the top of the bread; flour the knife to prevent sticking.
Yields 1 loaf
Serves 12 servings
15 minPrep Time
50 minCook Time
1 hr, 5 Total Time
- 4 cups flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup cold butter, cut into 8 pieces
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 3/4 cup raisins
- 1 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 egg
- -2 tablespoons melted butter if desired
- Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper; set aside.
- In large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.
- Add butter pieces; using a pastry blender, two forks or your fingers, work cold butter into the flour mixture until its evenly distributed and no chunks remain.
- Stir in rosemary and raisins.
- In glass measuring cup, stir together buttermilk and egg. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients; mix to combine.
- Turn dough out onto well-floured surface and knead a few times.
- Shape dough into a large round loaf and place on prepared baking pan.
- Using a floured serrated knife, cut a 1/2-inch deep cross in center of loaf.
- Bake at 375 degrees F. for 45-ff minutes, until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and brush with melted butter if desired. Serve warm.
- Store well wrapped for up to 2 days. If storing longer, place in freezer bag and freeze up to a month.