One Recipe, Two Loaves – A Savory and a Sweet Irish Soda Bread

A re-post from the past for current days. An easy bread to empower the most hesitant. Deliciously simple.

“So, her hands scuffled over the backboard, the reddening stove sent its plaque of heat against her where she stood in a floury apron by the window.” By Seamus Heaney, from “North”, 1975

March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day and the return of Daylight Savings Time…all in the same week.
A couple of days to celebrate in spite of all the turmoil in the world.
Make some time for yourself, perhaps in your kitchen? Let it be a haven of appreciation and thankfulness. Bread baking is a personal restorative process. When all else seems overwhelming, baking a loaf of bread can be both grounding and nourishing. It can be a connection with history, the now and hope for the future.

Of all the past two years of Pandemic Baking going on, with lots of talk and attention going to yeast breads, sour dough in particular, little was mentioned about soda bread. I am not sure why, but there was a noticeable absence of tribute to this historic bread. Soda Bread doesn’t take a lot of time nor skill to complete…maybe that is why it was lacking in attention. Little ado and you have a loaf of bread. No waiting for a culture to develop. One just does it. Plain and simple. In an hour your loaf if ready to slice.

Irish Soda Bread has a long history connected to both Ireland and surprisingly American Indian cooking. The texture and grain is beautiful and sturdy. It works well for sandwiches and toast. It is simply a good everyday bread. This recipe as you will see can be savory or sweet with just a few tweaks. I have made this recipe many time adding fresh herbs, nuts, grated cheese and even red pepper flakes.

Irish Soda Bread…timeless and timely on this Day, March 17th, 2022.

Warm loaf with a smear of softened Kerrygold Butter.

A Sweet and Savory Irish Soda Bread - One Recipe, Two Loaves

Ingredients for Loaf #1 – Plain and Simple

  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups buttermilk

Ingredients for Loaf #2 – Marmalade Loaf

  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade, divided in half

Directions for Loaf #1

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. Sift the flour, salt and baking soda together in a mixing bowl.
  3. Make a “well” in the center and pour in 1 1/2 cups buttermilk and mix gently. Add more buttermilk if dough seems too dry. This dough should be soft and somewhat wet. Scrape dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.
  4. Knead dough until smooth and shape into an 8 inch round, slightly flattened disk. Place dough on prepared sheet pan and using a sharp knife dipped in water, make an “X” in the top.
  5. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until bread is golden brown and crusty. When you remove the loaf from the oven and tap on the bottom it should sound hollow. Serve warm with softened butter.

Directions for Loaf #2

  1. Preheat oven to 425 and prepared sheet pan.
  2. Sift flour, salt and baking soda together, making a “well” in the center. Add yogurt, cream and half of the marmalade. Stir together quickly. Scrape dough onto a floured work surface and knead a few times.
  3. Shape dough into a disk and place on sheet pan. Smear outside of dough with remaining marmalade. Using a sharp knife dipped in water, make an “X” in the top of the dough.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown and crusty.

Both of these loaves keep well for a few days.

Teresa Blackburn.