Making delicious bread has never been simpler. This Sourdough Irish Soda Bread recipe is quick, easy and makes the most tender and fluffy loaf. Have a satisfying, fresh-baked loaf of bread with the delicious flavor of sourdough in under an hour!
What is Irish Soda Bread?
Irish Soda Bread is a type of quick bread leavened using baking soda. A traditional Irish Soda Bread recipe was made only using 4 ingredients, soft wheat flour (like all-purpose flour), baking soda, sour milk and salt. It’s usually shaped in a free-form round boule instead of being baked in a loaf pan. It's usually served with stews, soups, corned beef and a cup of tea.
This version is based on modern iterations of the recipe with the addition of buttermilk and butter for a more tender, airy texture. Expect this Sourdough Irish Soda Bread to have a tight crumb, with a light and fluffy texture similar to a scone.
Why Make Soda Bread with Sourdough
When incorporated into quick breads, sourdough discard imparts a tangy flavor that’s delicious in this Sourdough Soda Bread. Due to fermentation, sourdough discard intensifies and adds a nuanced flavor which you can’t get just with flour and buttermilk.
Since you’re not using it as a leavening agent, you can use your discard straight from the refrigerator. There’s no need to feed it or activate it before mixing it into your batter. Older discard will have a tangier, more acidic flavor than a freshly-fed sourdough starter. Both will work for this recipe, you’ll just get a slightly different flavor profile but your bake will still be delicious!
Tips for making Sourdough Irish Soda Bread
Coat the flour in butter: This surrounds the flour particles in fat. This prevents excessive gluten from developing which results in soft and fluffy soda bread.
Let the dough rest at room temperature: Don’t skip the rest period! This helps the flour absorb water completely and the starches to expand, making the dough easier to handle and much less sticky.
Knead the dough until smooth: Undermixing your dough produces a slightly gummy loaf, while kneading your dough until smooth results in a well-risen loaf with a crisp crust and a tender light crumb.
Don’t just score the dough: A lot of recipes simply score or cut a gash on top of the dough before baking, since you’re baking your dough at a very high temperature, this could result in your crust browning too quickly with the center being underbaked. Cutting all the way through will expose the center of the dough to heat ensuring the center of your loaf will be completely baked.
Temp your loaf before pulling it out of the oven: Time is a great guide for baking, but measuring temperature using an instant-read thermometer is the only way to know your bread is thoroughly baked. Make sure your bread registers at 200 F when probed before pulling it out of the oven.
What you need:
All-Purpose Flour: All-purpose flour imparts a soft and fluffy texture to this bake, don’t substitute another type of flour for this recipe
Salt: Feel free to use Kosher salt or sea salt for this recipe
Baking Soda: The main leavener for this bread, it helps the bread rise keeping this loaf airy and helps with browning, do not substitute baking powder
Sourdough Starter Discard: If you don’t have any sourdough discard, add 56 grams of flour and 56 grams of water to your recipe
Buttermilk: Reacts with baking soda to tenderize the loaf, use milk and add ¼ teaspoon of apple cider vinegar or white vinegar to your recipe if you don’t have any on hand
Unsalted Butter: Coats the flour with fat to prevent excess gluten development, subsitute your favorite plant-based butter
1. Whisk the dry ingredients together
2. Dissolve the sourdough discard into the buttermilk
3. Work the butter into the flour using your finger tips or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles wet sand
4. Stir the discard mixture into the flour mixture
5. Knead the dough in the bowl, cover and let the dough rest for 15 minutes
6. Turn the dough out on a floured work surface, knead until smooth and shape into a boule
7. Place the shaped dough on a parchment-lined skillet or baking sheet, divide the dough into quarters using a bench scraper
8. Bake the loaf at 425 F for 30 to 45 minutes
Absolutely! Simply use the same proportion of freshly fed sourdough starter in the recipe. Your starter won’t add a strong tangy flavor to your biscuits, but it will still work.
If you don’t have a starter, but still want to try out this recipe, simply add 56 grams of all-purpose flour and 56 grams of water to your dough.
Sourdough discard imparts a delicious tang and adds a deeper flavor than just using flour and buttermilk.
If you don’t have any buttermilk, use milk with ¼ teaspoon of apple cider vinegar or white vinegar.
White flour like all-purpose flour is best for making Sourdough Irish Soda Bread, the low protein content imparts a tender and airy texture to the bread. Bread flour would make the resulting bread too chewy while whole wheat flour absorbs more liquid and the resulting bake would be too dry and dense.
Sourdough Irish Soda Bread is delicious served with hearty stews or soups, but it tastes amazing slathered with homemade cultured butter with a sprinkling if sea salt.
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Homemade Sourdough Irish Soda Bread
- baking sheet
- Parchment paper
- 300 grams all-purpose flour plus 1 tablespoon for dusting
- 6 grams salt
- 3 grams baking soda
- 113 grams sourdough discard
- 226 grams buttermilk
- 56 grams unsalted butter
- Prep: Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet or skillet with parchment paper.
- Mix dry ingredients: Whisk together the all-purpose flour, salt and baking soda.
- Mix wet ingredients: Stir the sourdough discard into the buttermilk until completely dissolved. Set aside. Make sure the discard has fully dissolved or you may end up with gummy spots in your bread.
- Make the dough: Rub the unsalted butter into the dry ingredients until the flour is completely coated and the mixture resembles wet sand.
- Make a well in the center of the flour and pour the discard mixture in. Using a fork or a wooden spoon stir everything together until no dry bits of flour remain. Knead the mixture using your hand until it comes together in a shaggy but cohesive dough.
- Let the dough rest: Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes. This will allow the flour to thoroughly hydrate. After the rest period, the dough should feel less sticky and be easier to work with.
- Knead the dough: Dust a clean work surface with 1 tablespoon of flour (about 7 grams). Turn your dough out onto your floured surface. Knead the dough 4 to 5 times until your dough looks smooth. Make sure your dough is smooth or your bread may end up with gummy spots.
- Shape the dough: Using the edge of your palms, round the dough into a tight ball. Transfer the dough on your prepared baking sheet or skillet. With a bench scraper, cut the dough into quarters. Cutting the dough through allows your loaf to bake completely in the center. Pinch the edges together so the dough bakes into a round loaf and doesn’t separate.
- Bake: Bake the dough for 30 to 45 minutes or until the loaf is golden brown and registers at least 200 F when probed with an instant-read thermometer.