Irish soda bread is a type of quick bread that uses baking soda, rather than yeast, as a leavener. The most basic type of soda bread uses only flour, buttermilk, baking soda and salt, and makes a dense, hearty loaf that goes well with many types of dishes. The basic bread recipe is very versatile, and it is easy to put your own twist on it by adding in raisins, nuts or herbs. Most soda breads tend to a bit plain or they verge on savory, but there is no reason that you couldn’t have a soda bread that is a little sweeter and that is exactly what this Chocolate Chocolate Chip Irish Soda Bread is.
This soda bread variation has cocoa powder in the bread dough, which gives the loaf a rich color and a nice chocolate flavor. I added a little bit of sugar and vanilla to the dough, which helps the chocolate flavor to “pop” and the loaf to taste balanced – slightly sweet, but not too sweet. And, since I wanted even more chocolate, I packed the bread with mini chocolate chips. It is moist, dense and delicious – not to mention that it is a fun variation on a traditional Irish soda bread!
The best time to eat this soda bread is when it is still slightly warm from the oven. The mini chocolate chips will be slightly melted when the loaf hasn’t cooled completely, and you get a lot of chocolate flavor in every bite. It is also excellent toasted and spread with butter, jam (esp. strawberry), peanut butter or Nutella. As is the case with many soda breads, they can seem a little bit more dense the day after baking, so if you have leftovers, you might even consider making some chocolate french toast with them, as well as just toasting .
Chocolate Chip Irish Soda Bread
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips or finely chopped dark chocolate
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. Stir until well-blended. Add in buttermilk and vanilla and stir until a thick dough starts to come together. Add in chocolate chips and stir or knead until well distributed in the dough.
If the dough is too dry to come together after a few minutes, add in an additional tablespoon or so of buttermilk. If the dough is very sticky (it should be slightly sticky), add an additional tablespoon or so of flour.
Shape dough into a large, round loaf and place on prepared baking sheet. Use a sharp knife and cut a large “X” in the top of the dough, letting the knife cut about 1/2-inch into the loaf.
Bake for 45 minutes, until the top of the loaf is slightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean.
Allow to cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before slicing.
Makes 1 large loaf.