Irish Soda Bread is the world’s best No Yeast Bread! Irish bread is unique because it’s a 4 ingredient, 5 minute recipe made without yeast but still has a proper crumb just like “real” bread.
You don’t need to be Irish to make this. You just need to be a fellow Carb Monster! Rustic flavour, great crust, keeps well for days. Slather with butter, mop your plate clean, dunk into soups – or Irish Beef and Guinness Stew!
World’s BEST No Yeast Bread!
People say that the smell of fresh bread baking in the oven is one of the best things in the world.
Forget the smell. What about the moment when you cut yourself a thick slice of warm homemade bread, slather it with butter then take a big fat, satisfying bite of it??
I’ll take THAT over the smell any day…….
“Irish Soda Bread takes just 5 minutes to get in the oven. So you can have fresh bread any night!”
What it tastes like
It’s called Irish Soda Bread because it’s made with baking soda instead of yeast. Because of this, it’s more dense than your everyday white sandwich bread. Hearty and rustic are the words that come to mind, and it tastes kind of nutty from the wholemeal flour.
While dense, it still has an aerated crumb like “normal” bread. And it’s got a great crust which I love!
What goes in Irish Soda Bread
Here’s what you need:
- Flour – white flour makes a slightly more tender crumb whereas wholewheat/wholemeal adds flavour. So using both is best – but it can be made with just either flour.
- Baking Soda – This is baking powder on steroids, with almost 3 times as much rising power. Because this is a formidable ball of dough we’re working with here, we need the super strength of baking soda instead of baking powder!
- Buttermilk – The vinegar in buttermilk activates the baking soda, giving it a kickstart which you need for a loaf of bread this size. Easy sub: Just mix milk and lemon juice or vinegar, leave to curdle and use per recipe. It’s a near perfect sub.
- Salt – the only seasoning required! See below for more flavouring options
Don’t worry if you don’t have buttermilk. Make your own with milk and vinegar – it’s a near perfect substitute.
No egg? No butter? No sugar??
That’s right! This is a traditional Irish Soda Bread we’re making here. For one thing, this bread is better without egg and butter. Egg makes the bread less moist, and the butter made the crumb less tender (I made side by side versions just to be sure).
And this bread has enough flavour to eat plain with just lashings of butter so you don’t need extra flavourings like sugar and spices – though you can if you want.
To avoid your Soda Bread coming out as hard as a canon ball, don’t knead more than 10 times!
Irish Soda Bread Tips
Irish Soda bread is a mix / 10 second knead / shape / bake job. It’s very simple and quite forgiving but I do have a few tips to ensure yours is a success even if you’re a bread first timer.
- 3 minutes into oven – Once you add the buttermilk, aim to get it into the oven within 3 minutes. This is because buttermilk activates the baking soda. So the second it is added, the baking soda is fizzing away, getting ready to do its thing. If you leave it lying around, it loses its firepower = dense dough.
- 10 Knead Rule – Like all no yeast bread / muffin type recipes like Blueberry Muffins and Herb Garlic Quick Bread Loaf, the less you handle the dough, the softer the crumb. So don’t knead more than 10 times!
- The wetter the dough, the more moist the crumb – Just use enough flour to be able to shape and move the dough.
As with every dough recipe, even simple No Yeast flatbreads, the exact amount of flour required will differ for everyone, even from day to day. Different flour brands, humidity, warmth, coldness of your work surface – all these impact the exact amount of flour required.
It’s better to have a stickier dough and add more flour as required, rather than a dry dough which is hard to salvage. So I start with 1.75 cups, then measure out another 1/4 cup for dusting/kneading and just use what’s required.
This version I’m sharing today is a plain traditional Irish bread. I say it’s “plain” but it’s certainly not flavourless. You’ll find yourself devouring it with nothing more than butter! But it’s also a terrific to add flavourings, some common variations include:
- Oats – inside and sprinkled on top
- Raisins, caraway seeds
- Seeds – sesame, sunflower, linseed and pumpkin seeds is a combination I tried at my local markets today!
Eat it plain, toast it, or serve it with….
This is such a great last minute emergency bread. It’s so quick to make, but you won’t feel like you’re “just making do” just because it’s a no yeast bread. It is a great bread as it is.
Imagine dunking this into a thick creamy Pumpkin Soup, a really great Lentil Soup, Broccoli Cheese Soup or for something different, a creamy Carrot Soup (this is so good!). Or dunking it into a slow cooked Stew, mopping your plates and bowls clean.
Use it for toast in the morning. Make Cheesy Garlic Bread, or big Jewish deli-style Pastrami sandwiches. Just use this as you would any other bread – except you have the added bonus of smug satisfaction knowing you made it yourself!! – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Irish Soda Bread – World’s Best No Yeast Bread!
- 2 cups / 300g white flour (plain / all purpose)
- 1.75 cups / 265g wholemeal flour (wholewheat, Note 1)
- 2 – 3 tbsp Extra Flour (either flour, for dusting)
- 1.5 tsp baking soda (bi-carb, Note 2)
- 1.5 tsp salt
- 2 cups (500ml) buttermilk , fridge cold (Note 3)
Preheat oven to 220C/430F (200C/390F fan).
Line tray with baking paper.
Whisk both flours (not Extra Flour), baking soda and salt in a bowl.
Add buttermilk, stir until it’s too hard to stir anymore.
Sprinkle 2 tbsp Extra Flour onto work surface, scrape out dough, sprinkle with more flour.
Gently knead no more than 8 times, bring together into a ball. (Note 4)
Transfer to tray, pat into 2.5cm/1″ thick disc.
Cut cross on surface 1cm / 0.3″ deep using serrated knife.
Bake 20 minutes. Turn oven down to 200C/390F (180C/350F fan).
Bake further 20 minutes, or until the base sounds hollow when tapped in the middle.
Transfer to rack and cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
2. Baking soda – also known as bicarbonate soda (bi-carb), 3x more powerful than baking powder. Stronger rise power required for this no-yeast bread.
3. Buttermilk sub: Mix 1.75 cups + 1 tbsp full fat milk + 1 tbsp white vinegar or lemon juice. Set aside for 15 minutes then use in place of buttermilk in recipe.
4. Dough stickiness – use more flour as required. The trick is to use just enough flour to make the dough manageable because stickier dough = more moist bread.
5. Variations – This bread is terrific as is, it’s a classic traditional Irish Soda Bread. Some popular flavoured versions (stir in with dry ingredients):
- Oats – brush surface with extra buttermilk and sprinkle with oats. Can also mix in oats (up to 1 cup), but reduce flour in dough by 1/2 cup;
- Raisins! Stir in 1 cup
- Seeds! Pumpkin, linseeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, poppyseed. Stir through and sprinkle on top, about 1/2 cup.
6. Serving – Especially great served warm! Use like normal bread – sandwiches, dunking, mopping plates clean, toasting, grilled cheese.
7. Storage – keeps well for 3 days in an airtight container, 4 to 5 days in the fridge. Or freeze it for months!
8. Nutrition per slice.
Life of Dozer
When he spotted a duck under the jetty. It took much effort to drag him back up the stairs – and he very nearly pulled me into the water!!
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