Irish soda bread is one of my favorite things to make when I want a quick loaf of bread fresh from the oven. Soda bread gets its name from the fact that it is leavened with baking soda, rather than with yeast. This means that very little time passes between starting to mix up bread dough and eating the finished loaf. Irish soda breads are moist, hearty and while there is a traditional way to make them, there is plenty of room for variation, too.
This Irish soda bread has some rolled oats in it and is sweetened with a little bit of honey. I threw in some raisins for good measure, partially because I like their moistness in soda breads in general, but primarily because their natural sweetness is brought out even more with the addition of the honey. This loaf is a little bit dense, but is tender and moist. It is great slathered with some butter while it is still warm from the oven – particularly if you are using Irish butter – and it also makes great toast. Despite the honey and raisins, it isn’t too sweet and pairs well as a side dish with chilis and soups.
Kneading soda bread gives it a better rise in the oven, so I always knead my bread for a minute or two before putting it on a baking sheet. I like to knead this type of bread right in the mixing bowl because there is no need to add additional flour that may toughen up the texture of the bread – and because there is no need to clean up the counter afterward! This recipe doesn’t make a huge loaf, but you could easily double the recipe and make two if you need to serve a crowd. I like big slices of soda bread personally, so I would say that this is a good sized loaf for up to 6 people.
Oats and Honey Irish Soda Bread
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oatmeal
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp honey
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup raisins
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, stir together flour, oats, baking soda and salt. Add in honey and buttermilk and stir until dough comes together. Stir in raisins. Dough should be only slightly sticky, so that it is easy to knead. If it is too dry, add an additional tbsp or two of buttermilk.
Keeping the dough in the bowl, knead it for 1-2 minutes, turning the dough, pressing it firmly with the heel of your hand, then turning the dough and repeating. Shape dough into a ball and place on prepared baking sheet. Flatten dough until it forms a disc about 1 – 1 1/2 inches thick.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until loaf is golden brown.
Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes on a wire rack before slicing.
Makes 1 loaf, serves 6.