St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner. But you don’t have to save this traditional Irish bread for one day a year. It’s a delicious and easy treat any time.
In days gone by, Irish women made bread every day. And why not when a recipe is as easy as this? It has only four ingredients, and uses baking soda as its leavening agent instead of temperamental yeast. It’s dense, and flavorful, and is made extra yummy with a little butter and jam.
Since I can’t get through an entire loaf of bread before it goes bad, I’ve made this recipe to end up with four mini-loaves. You can freeze the extra loaves, or package them in adorable treat bags tied with green ribbon and share the bounty with friends and neighbors. (You don’t have to tell them how easy it is to make. That’ll be our little secret.)
Start with flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk. (See? Told you there were only four ingredients. Would I lie to you?)
Add all the dry ingredients to a bowl. Whisk until everything’s evenly distributed.
Now it gets fun. Add one and a half cups of buttermilk. Using your hands, gently mix until it starts to come together. If needed, add the remaining buttermilk a couple tablespoons at a time. The dough shouldn’t be super dry, but it shouldn’t be super sticky either. I usually end up with about an eighth of a cup of buttermilk unused.
Sprinkle a little flour on your counter and kneed the dough a couple times until it becomes one cohesive ball.
Cut the dough into four equal halves.
(If you want to be all traditional and stuff and make one big loaf, skip this step and just shape your dough into one large flat-ish circle.)
Shape the four dough balls into round, flat-ish mini-loaves, and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Use a serrated knife to cut a cross (about a quarter inch deep) on the top of each loaf.
Bake in a 425 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes. The top should be a soft golden brown, and if you tap on the bottom it should sound hollow. (If you’re baking a full loaf, bake for 25 to 30 minutes.)
The hardest part of this recipe is waiting until the loaves are cool enough to slice without sustaining third degree burns on your fingertips! My favorite way to serve these is warmed up and smothered with Irish butter and homemade jam.
Here’s the complete recipe. Enjoy!
3 2/3 cups flour (I use all-purpose)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 plus 1/4 cups buttermilk
- Add dry ingredients to bowl and whisk to combine.
- Add buttermilk and mix with your hands. If needed, add remaining buttermilk a little at a time until dough comes together.
- Turn dough onto floured board and kneed a couple times.
- Divide dough into four equal parts. Shape into flat round loaves.
- Cut a shallow cross on the top of each loaf.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown, and hollow sounding.
- Serve warm with butter and jam.