Irish soda bread – or simply soda bread – is the sort of recipe that everyone should know how to make. The quick-rising bread gets its lift from baking soda, not from yeast, and it can be mixed up in less than 5 minutes. Not only does it have a quick prep time, but it can be flavored in any number of different ways, so that one bread recipe can yield dozens of different loaves. I’ve made sweet versions and savory versions before, so you really can take it in any direction you want to go. This Dill and Potato Irish Soda Bread is a savory herbed soda bread that uses plenty of dill, making it a great choice for springtime dining.
Instant potatoes may seem like an unusual ingredient here, but they’re a surprisingly handy ingredient to have when you bake a lot of breads, whether yeast breads or quick breads. The potatoes dissolve into the bread, so you don’t get any potato flavor at all, and create a softer crumb than wheat flour alone. That is why you’ll often see soft “potato bread” in the sandwich bread section of the grocery store. Instant potatoes keep very well in the cupboard, so you can have them on hand for baking projects without needing to cook up whole potatoes. If you happen to have leftover mashed potatoes, they can be substituted by using 1/3 cup instead of 1/2 cup of instant. Leftover potatoes will usually have butter or milk already added, so your final loaf may need slightly less buttermilk to come together.
I used dried dill, but fresh dill can be used if you happen to have some. Fresh dill is more potent than dried, so use slightly less than the amount I suggest below. If you’re a big dill fan, feel free to use a bit more! The bread is herbacious and savory, with a great flavor. It’s delicious when served warm and spread with butter, or when paired with a great spring soup or salad. The loaf can be eaten almost as soon as it comes out of the oven and is at its best when its fresh, so try to make it as soon before serving as possible.
Dill and Potato Irish Soda Bread
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup instant potato flakes
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp dried dill
approx 1 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, sugar and dried dill. Stir in buttermilk, mixing until the dough pulls together into a ball. If the dough is too sticky, add in an additional 1-2 tablespoons of flour. Dough will be sticky, but you should be able to shape it into a ball.
Shape dough into a ball and place on parchment paper. Cut two deep slashes (to form a +) on the top of the loaf.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown and set.
Allow loaf to cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before slicing.
Makes 1 loaf; Serves 8.
*Note: The original version of this recipe included raisins. I love raisins in Irish soda bread, but did not include them in the loaf pictured. If you like raisins, as well, stir in 1/2 cup along with the buttermilk and continue with the directions as written.