Whenever we have soup I need toppings or a good bread to go with it. This Garlic Cheddar Herb Irish Soda Bread is perfect for sopping up stew in the winter or on St Patrick’s Day!
If you are someone who gets intimidated by working with yeast, then this is the recipe for you! There’s no yeast, no rising, no waiting…and you still get a fluffy, flavorful loaf of bread. It is as easy as making a cake. Just mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients and bake!
You have a fresh beautiful loaf of bread in less than an hour!
The garlic and cheddar are an impeccable combination (they always are!) and the fresh herbs add bursts of flavor in every single bite.
Why is it Called Irish Soda Bread?
Soda bread is a type of quick bread that uses sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) as the leavening agent rather than yeast. Traditional soda bread has four standard ingredients – flour, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk. Buttermilk contains lactic acid that reacts with the baking soda to form little bubbles of carbon dioxide that gives the finished bread its fluffiness.
I’m not sure what makes it Irish, other than that it’s the most popular name for it. Soda bread is popular in many European countries as well as here in America. In fact, Native Americans have been using this type of bread leavening for hundreds of years.
So I just mentioned how soda bread starts with 4 basic ingredients. From there, all sorts of different things can be added. You can add butter, raisins, nuts, cheese, herbs, or even chocolate chips. This is one of the reasons I love it! You can make it almost anything you want! Sweet or savory! Simple or loaded with goodness! For this version, we use cheddar cheese and herbs. If you want to try something else delicious, try adding sun dried tomatoes, Asiago cheese, and fresh basil! It’s like a caprese-esque dream!
Why the Cross on Top?
It is tradition for a cross to be cut in the top of the dough with a knife before baking it. There are legends and symbolism that explain this tradition. People believed it would ward off the devil and protect a household, and the cross is also a symbol of a blessing or giving thanks.
However, there is also a practical reason for the cross. Slashing the dough lets heat penetrate deeper in to the thickest part of the bread and allows the bread to stretch and expand as it rises.
Less than an Hour Bread
Let me just briefly review how this bread comes together. You start by whisking all the dry ingredients together – flour, salt, baking soda, and sugar. Then you add the cheese and herbs. For this loaf, I grated the cheese, but if you want to try something fun, cube the cheese into half inch cubes. Then you will have little pockets of cheese throughout the loaf.
Break the butter up into the flour using your fingers and work it into the flour until the mixture become grainy. Create a well in the middle of your dry ingredients and add your wet ingredients – egg and buttermilk. I always use a wooden spoon to stir dough together, and then I switch to using my hands until the dough forms a ball.
Then butter whatever vessel you want to bake your bread in, cut your cross in the top, and bake! When it is done baking, I like to sprinkle it with a little kosher salt. Slice and serve warm!
How Do I Know When Soda Bread is Done?
Your bread will be nice and golden on top. When you tap it on the top, it will sound hollow inside.
Can Irish Soda Bread be Frozen?
Irish soda bread can definitely be frozen! After baking it, make sure it cools completely to room temperature, then wrap it in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container. It will last for up to a week in the freezer.
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Garlic Cheddar Herb Irish Soda Bread
- 4 Cups Flour, plus 2 Tablespoons
- 1 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1 Teaspoon Sugar
- 2/3 Cup Cheese, shredded, sharp
- 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
- 1 Teaspoon Rosemary, fresh, chopped or 1/2 teaspoon dried
- 1 Teaspoon Thyme, fresh, or 1/2 Teaspoon dried
- 4 Tablespoons Butter, cold
- 1 Egg, large, whisked
- 1 3/4 Cup Buttermilk
- Preheat the oven to 425°
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda and sugar.4 Cups Flour, 1 1/4 Teaspoon Salt, 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda, 1 Teaspoon Sugar
- Add the cheese, garlic and herbs and toss to coat.2/3 Cup Cheese, 2 Cloves Garlic, 1 Teaspoon Rosemary, 1 Teaspoon Thyme
- Break the butter up into the flour and using your hands, pinch and mix the flour in until it resembles a grainy texture.4 Tablespoons Butter
- Make a well in the center and add the egg and buttermilk.1 Egg, 1 3/4 Cup Buttermilk
- Use a wooden spoon to stir it together then switch to your hands and knead the dough gently just until it forms a ball.
- Butter a skillet, dutch oven or cookie sheet and place the dough on top.
- Use a knife to cut a cross in the dough, only about 1/2″ deep and then bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top is brown and the bread sounds hollow when tapped.
- Remove from the oven and serve hot and fresh.
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