Weight Watchers Recipe of the Day: Simple White Irish Soda Bread
I love Irish Soda Bread and am always on the lookout for a good recipe. Ever since my first trip to Ireland, where I ate it every chance I got, I've been hooked.
Is Irish Soda Bread Really Irish?
Irish Soda Bread is a serious part of the country’s culinary identity. Although the first people to use soda to leaven their bread was the American Indians, it was the Irish who made it a tradition. Not by choice, but by necessity, to make the most of four basic ingredients: “soft” wheat flour, baking soda, salt, and soured milk.
What Does Traditional Irish Soda Bread Taste Like?
Pleasingly plain and wholesome, it reminds me of a big biscuit only better because it is lower and fat.
It comes together quickly, in a single bowl. Because it doesn't require kneading or yeast, simple soda bread is a great introduction to the joys of bread-making, like the ever popular WW 2-Ingredient Dough.
Is There Sugar in Irish Soda Bread?
According to The Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread, the addition of anything else, such as sugar or egg makes it a "tea cake."
Here in the the United States, "Irish soda bread" generally means a somewhat sweet white quick bread made with eggs and butter and studded with raisins and caraway seeds. The Irish would call these sweeter, richer variations "Spotted Dog" or "Emigrants Soda Bread."
How Many Calories and WW Points in Simple White Irish Soda Bread?
According to my calculations each serving has 101 calories and
3 *SmartPoints (Green plan)
3 *SmartPoints (Blue plan)
3 *SmartPoints (Purple plan)
3 *PointsPlus (Old plan)
This recipe for traditional Irish soda bread is much simpler than many of the recipes you find here in the US which often include butter, sugar, eggs and/or raisins.
As we enjoyed it both dipped into our soup and topped with soft butter and honey, I silently asked myself why I don't make Irish soda bread more often since it's so simple to make and satisfying to eat.
I spent more time than I should have today searching the internet for Irish soda bread recipes and came up with several that look like winners including one for Irish Soda Bread Muffins that I can't wait to try.
And here's a video of Darina Allen, from the famous Balleymaloe Cooking School in Ireland demonstrating how to make traditional Irish Soda Bread. She makes it look so easy!
I continue to work on perfecting my Irish Soda Bread Baking Technique.
Here is a photo of my most recent loaf...
Here are some tips and Hints I've Learned through the years...
Tips for How to Make Irish Soda Bread with and without Buttermilk
- Always preheat the oven.
- Measure all ingredients accurately, most especially the baking soda. Be sure to use only what is called for. In this recipe 1 level teaspoon.
- I've had much more success baking this bread since beginning to weigh my flour instead of measuring it.
- When adding the buttermilk to the flour, start off by adding most of it all at once and mix into the flour. Don't drizzle it in because if you do it will take too long to mix and your bread will be tough.
- Don' knead the dough. You just want to mix and then gently shape it.
- Make sure your loaf is fully baked. It should have a golden brown crust and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
- Traditional Irish soda breads are cut with a knife in a cross shape. This is more than symbolic. The deep cut allows the heat to penetrate the middle of the loaf ensuring that it is properly cooked through.
- If you don't have buttermilk, add 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to 12 ounces (350 ml) of whole milk before proceeding with the recipe.
- It is best to stir the mixture with your hand open like a claw from the sides of the bowl and should come together in a matter of seconds. The dough should be very soft and a bit tacky but not wet and sticky. Add the remaining milk only if necessary.
- Once it comes together DO NOT KNEAD. Just turn it out onto a well floured surface and with clean hands gently shape into a round loaf about 8-inches in diameter.
If you've made this Irish Soda Bread, please give the recipe a star rating below and leave a comment letting me know how you liked it. And stay in touch on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for the latest updates.
Irish Soda Bread Recipe
- 3.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (450 grams/16 ounces)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda (make sure it is level)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1-½ cups buttermilk (350 ml/12 ounces)
- Position one of your oven racks in the center and preheat the oven to 450F. Lightly flour an 9-inch glass baking pie plate or baking sheet; set aside.
- Sieve the dry ingredients into a very large wide bowl. With your fingers or a whisk mix very well.
- Make a well in the center of your flour mixture. Add most of the buttermilk to the bowl all at once. Immediately with your hand open like a claw, mix the flour into the buttermilk from the sides of the bowl until a softish dough forms. This should take only seconds. You want a soft dough but not wet and sticky. Add the bit of remaining milk only if necessary.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. With clean hands gently shape the dough into a round loaf shape about 8- inches in diameter.
- With a sharp knife, cut an "x" in the top about ½-inch deep, being sure to go right out over the edges. Place the dough in the prepared dish/baking sheet.
- Bake for about 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 400 and bake for 20 to 30 minutes more or until the bread is golden brown and a skewer or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs. The loaf should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
- Remove from the oven and place the bread on a rack to cool completely.
- This bread is best enjoyed within a day of baking. Once completely cool, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and store it at room temperature.
Sources: Baking with Julia: Savor the Joys of Baking with America’s Best Bakers by Dorie Greenspan and Master It: How to Cook Today by Rory O'Connell
*PersonalPoints® calculated by WW. *PointsPlus® and SmartPoints® calculated by Simple Nourished Living; Not endorsed by Weight Watchers International, Inc. All recipe ingredients except optional items included in determining nutritional estimates. SmartPoints® values calculated WITHOUT each plan's ZeroPoint Foods (Green plan, Blue plan, Purple plan) using the WW Recipe Builder.
More Irish Soda Bread Recipes for Weight Watchers
Irish Soda Bread Muffins - So this recipe for easy Irish Soda Bread Muffins from the King Arthur Flour is one of the favorites from my recipe files.
Irish Brown Bread -Irish brown soda bread is quick and easy; the ultimate quick bread. You can stir it together in less than 5 minutes with just a bowl and a spoon and the most basic of ingredients.
Agnes O 'Sullivan's Brown Soda Bread Recipe -- Irish soda bread is like a bowl of hot cereal to go. It's moist, nutty, and slightly sweet, with the comfort level of my grandfather’s oatmeal. It makes you feel not only fed, but nourished. Recipe from Tea and Cookies.
Darina Allen's Irish Soda Bread Recipe -- Here is Darina Allen's recipe for soda bread from her book Easy Entertaining: Over 250 Stress-Free Recipes and Sensational Stylling Ideas. Darina runs Ballymaloe, a highly regarded culinary school in Ireland and is the author of several successful Irish cookery books. Found at Greatfood.ie.
Ideal Irish Soda Bread -- By adding egg, sugar, caraway seeds, and butter to a traditional Irish soda bread recipe, you create a loaf that is fit for a Sunday breakfast or brunch. Found at Martha Stewart.
Skillet Irish Soda Bread -- Baked in a cast iron skillet and served with cheddar and apples. From The New York Times.
Whole Wheat Soda Bread -- A slightly sweet, craggy, "everyday" loaf, with inspiration from customer Fred B. Dugan. Found at King Arthur Flour.
Mr. Food's Cranberry Irish Soda Bread
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 2 cups low fat buttermilk
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup melted butter
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine all the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and cranberries until well combined.
- In a second bowl stir together the buttermilk, eggs and melted butter.
- Pour the buttermilk mixture all at once into the flour mixture and stir just until moistened.
- Scrape the mixture into the prepared cake pan and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and set the pan on a wire rack to cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove loaf from the pan and transfer to wire rack to continue cooling.
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