Irish Soda Bread with Sourdough Discard is quick to whip together and should be baked until crusty on the outside and soft in the middle. It tastes delicious plain, and it is perfect to dunk in a hearty soup or enjoy with a schmear of butter and jam. This recipe is delicious on its own, but you can also add in orange zest and currants for a sweeter loaf. We love this loaf on St. Patrick’s Day or any day we need a delicious side dish with dinner.
History of Irish Soda Bread
Irish Soda Bread was adopted in the 1800s after the potato famine. It was inexpensive, with only a few ingredients and easy to make. Originally the bread contained nothing more than flour, buttermilk, baking soda and salt. Over the years, recipes have been changed to increase the flavor and taste but the leavening agents remain the same: baking soda and buttermilk. These two ingredients together give the loaf its rise and biscuit-like flavor. Some areas of Ireland would cut a cross in the top of the bread to ward off evil and protect their families. The texture and flavor of Irish Soda Bread reminds me of a giant biscuit with a hard crust, and this version uses a whole bunch of sourdough discard. It is a crowd-pleaser, quick to make and fun to eat.
- Sourdough Discard: This recipe uses about 1/2 cup of 100% hydration sourdough discard. I use mine cold from the fridge or you can substitute bubbly sourdough starter. The longer the sourdough discard sits in the fridge, the more pronounced the sour flavor will be in the loaf. If you like the sour flavor, use older discard. If you don’t want to taste it in the bake, use bubbly sourdough starter OR a younger discard.
- Buttermilk: Buttermilk gives this bread its rise and tangy flavor. You can use substitutions (see recipe notes) if you don’t have any on hand, but I really think this bread tastes best with the buttermilk. Use it if you can.
- Egg: Adding an egg gives this bread a little extra richness. If you prefer a lighter version of this Irish Soda Bread you can leave it out.
- All Purpose Flour: I use all purpose flour in this recipe.
- Granulated Sugar: A little bit of granulated sugar makes this loaf pleasantly sweet. Perfect to add in some zest or delicious plain with a savory meal.
- Salt: A little bit of salt goes a long way. It enhances the flavor of the bread.
- Baking Soda: Baking soda is what traditionally gives this bread its rise.
- Unsalted Butter: Use cold or frozen butter and grate it into small pieces. Add to the flour mixture and coat with flour. If you use salted butter, decrease the salt in the recipe.
Irish Soda Bread with sourdough discard is really simple to mix up. Add the dry ingredients together to a large bowl: flour, sugar, salt and baking soda. Whisk until combined and then grate the chilled/cold butter on top of the flour mixture. Toss until the butter is evenly coated with flour mixture. This method gives a light and flaky biscuit texture to the dough.
To a liquid measuring cup add the sourdough discard, buttermilk and egg. Whisk together and pour on top of the flour mixture. Gently mix together until the flour mixture is all combined. Knead a few times until the dough forms a nice round ball. Be careful not to over-mix/over-knead the dough, but make sure it is all combined.
Shaping Irish Soda Bread
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the ball of dough in the center of the parchment paper and use your hands to gently form into a round circle. Take a sharp knife and score an X in the top of the loaf. This helps steam escape, gives a nice decoration and ensures that the whole loaf will easily bake all the way through.
Baking Irish Soda Bread
Bake the Irish Soda Bread in a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for a total of 45-50 minutes. Check on the soda bread after the first 20 minutes. If it looks overly brown, stick a piece of tinfoil loosely on top of the soda bread to prevent it from burning (similar method used in pie crust). Once the bread is finished baking, it will be crispy and brown around the edges and soft in the middle. Wait for the loaf to cool before slicing and enjoying!
Looking for More St. Patrick’s Day Recipes?
Frequently Asked Questions
What do you serve with Irish Soda Bread?
Irish Soda Bread is delicious plain or spread with butter and jam. The slices can be toasted and eaten with cheese or meat as well. I also like dunking the edges of the soda bread into a hearty soup.
How do I store leftover Irish Soda Bread?
Irish Soda Bread with sourdough discard will be okay at room temperature for about 24 hours. After that I slice it into pieces and freeze for up to 3 months.
Can I make Irish Soda Bread without Sourdough?
Yes. I have a recipe for it right here.
More of My Favorite Sourdough Discard Recipes Here
Irish Soda Bread with Sourdough Discard
- 140 grams sourdough discard 100% hydration, about 1/2 cup
- 360 grams buttermilk about 1 1/2 cups
- 1 large egg about 50 grams
- 525 grams all purpose flour about 3 1/2 cups
- 60 grams granulated sugar about 1/4 cup
- 13 grams salt about 1 1/2 teaspoons
- 7 grams baking soda about 1 teaspoon
- 70 grams unsalted butter, chilled and grated about 5 Tablespoons
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a small bowl whisk together the sourdough discard, buttermilk and egg. Set aside.
- Mix the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt together in a bowl and lightly mix together. Add any mix-ins if desired (currants, zest, herbs, chocolate chips, etc…) and lightly coat with the flour mixture.
- Grate the cold butter directly into the mixture or cut the butter into small chunks or use a pastry cutter until the butter is finely incorporated. There should be no big lumps of butter, just small pea-sized pieces.
- Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and stir to lightly incorporate. If the dough is a little sticky, add a Tablespoon or two of extra flour. Turn the dough out onto the counter and knead once or twice. This is a quick bread, so you don’t want to activate the gluten in the flour with a lot of kneading. Shape into a round circle.
- Transfer the loaf to the prepared baking pan and score a large X on the top. Bake for 20 minutes and then check the top of your bread. If it is browning quickly, cover the top with a sheet of aluminum foil to prevent burning. Bake until the bread is cooked through, about 45-50 minutes.
- Allow bread to cool 15 minutes and then serve warm. It can also be eaten at room temperature or toasted for a snack later. Enjoy!
- a mixture of ½ cup plain yogurt (or sour cream) and ½ cup milk mixed together (per cup of buttermilk)
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